Zuma to deliver State of the Nation address amid threats

2015-02-11 22:09
(Sumaya Hisham, Pool, AP)

(Sumaya Hisham, Pool, AP)

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma will deliver his eighth State of the Nation address on Thursday amid tight security following threats of disruptions.

The EFF on Tuesday repeated its threat to interrupt his annual address by asking him questions about his Nkandla homestead.

"The EFF will ask questions to Zuma during the Sona [State of the Nation address] because Zuma has not been coming to Parliament and we do not believe that Zuma will come to be held accountable in Parliament," spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.

Despite the threat, Parliament has said it was satisfied with security arrangements for the event. The legislature's presiding officers have vowed to apply rules and conventions strictly during the speech.

Parliament's protection officers and police will be deployed inside the National Assembly building.

"The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, which co-ordinates all security and law enforcement for the president's annual State of the Nation address... is satisfied with the progress being made with its security planning," police spokesperson Solomon Makgale said in a statement on Wednesday.

The precinct would be closed to the public, except for those accredited to attend the event, including MPs, journalists, and members of the diplomatic corps.

"The nation at large, particularly the community of Cape Town, is advised that there will be limited access in areas surrounding Parliament, meaning that there will be road closures and parking restrictions," said Makgale.

A no-fly zone will be set up over the precinct, except for SA Air Force jets, which will do a fly-over shortly before Zuma's speech.

While security measures had been increased, the withdrawal of parliamentary workers' voluntary services from the State of the Nation address could cause some headaches for Parliament's management.

Talks in deadlock

On Tuesday night, talks between Parliament's management and Nehawu over a 13th cheque deadlocked again, prompting the union to announce it would follow through with its plans.

"The secretary to Parliament made commitments that the matters we have raised will be addressed, but when we requested him to put these commitments on pen and paper, he refused," said National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) Western Cape secretary Luthando Nogcinisa.

Nehawu denied it was using State of the Nation address to bargain with Parliament.

"Our objective is not to disrupt the Sona [State of the Nation address] as it has been reported by some media houses," Nogcinisa said.

"Our only objective is to highlight the plight of workers in Parliament."

The union has over 900 members employed by Parliament, some of whom perform voluntary services during the State of the Nation address.

"They include things like the choir, the ushers who would take guests from the airport to Parliament, and usher MPs and so on," said Nogcinisa.

It was not clear whether Parliament had made alternative arrangements to offset the effects the withdrawal of Nehawu's service would have on the event.

"We are in talks with them and we'll communicate with them directly on issues of mutual concern. We will not conduct our negotiations in the media," said Parliament's spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs.

Nehawu is demanding a 13th cheque for workers, and that workers' pay be equalised.

Read more on:    nehawu  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015

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