SONA to go ahead 'whoever is president' - AS IT HAPPENED

2018-02-01 11:30

Parliament's presiding officers say the State of the Nation Address is called by the president, and the event is therefore on track to go ahead on February 8 as planned.

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Last Updated at 13:44
01 Feb 11:40

To Recap:

As things stand, SONA 2018 will go ahead as planned on February 8, whether President Zuma is still president or not.

As far as has been communicated, Zuma is still president, and thus Parliament's arrangements are under the assumption that he will be delivering the address.

If things change between now and then, exactly 7 days, Parliament will respond accordingly.

There will be no special sitting before the address to debate a motion of no confidence, as requested by the EFF.


01 Feb 11:39

Mbete tells journalists after the briefing that talk of another date for a motion of no confidence brought by the EFF, are obviously in the discussions.

The motion could still happen after the sitting, but not before.


01 Feb 11:32
The press briefing is adjourned.

01 Feb 11:27

Mbete says they have cooperation that the security issues must be avoided this time.

"The matters that arose last year in terms of handling of journalists, they have been thoroughly canvassed by Parliament's media head Moloto Mothapo."


01 Feb 11:25

Mbete: I underline the reasons that deputy speaker gave around the special sitting.

The answer is no, we are not going to have a special sitting before the SONA address.


01 Feb 11:24

Modise now addressing security concerns.

"It does seem overkill to have members who are trained to use a certain amount of force to be in areas they shouldn't be.

They will only call on security resources if action is required.

"We have raised very sharply that we do not want the security ministers, and whoever is above them, to make security arrangements without consulting us.

"There will not be blocking of signals, we will not have army personnel in the precinct.

"If it does, let it be brought to our attention, so we can deal with it."


01 Feb 11:21

NCOP chair Modise agrees with Tsenoli.

The event belong to the president, and it's not Parliament's place to postpone without official confirmation.


01 Feb 11:20

Tsenoli: "To call a special sitting before SONA, is unlikely to happen.

"I can't see a persuasive argument for why it could happen.

"It would be the most unprecedented thing."

Mbete shrugs her shoulders next to him in agreement.

"That's just my opinion as deputy speaker. I'm ready to be clobbered by the presiding officer next to me if I'm wrong," he jokes.

Mbete smiles and nods that he is correct.


01 Feb 11:18

Tsenoli: "Until we are confronted by the possibility that something else happens, we don't see it on the horizon yet.

"So we have no reason to think won't go as planned."


01 Feb 11:15

Tsenoli repeats that Parliament has not taken a decision about postponing SONA.

"Unless there is an extra-ordinary event, the event will go ahead as planned."


01 Feb 11:12

01 Feb 11:10
Another journalist asks if Mbete herself would go on record to say that "the president, whoever that is", will give a State of the Nation Address on February 8.

01 Feb 11:05

A Bloomberg journalist says the media were promised at previous SONA's that there would be no extra security measures.

"Yet at previous SONA's, we've had signal jammers, police disguised as Parliamentary security, journalists being manhandled.

"How are you going to secure those things?

"Also, have you considered a request for a special sitting before the February 8 date?"


01 Feb 11:03
SABC journalist Lukhanyo Calata asks if a date has been considered for the EFF's proposed motion of no confidence.

01 Feb 11:02
One last round of questions form journalists.

01 Feb 11:01

Mbete now addressing a separate issue about State Security Minister Bongani Bongo.

This was based on an affidavit by Eskom inquiry lead evidence adviser Advocate Vanara that Bongo allegedly tried to bribe him.

The issue was taken up last year and escalated to the relevant authorities, including the president who hired Bongo.


01 Feb 10:59
Mbete now says they will have another meeting with the justice, peace and security cluster in the coming week before the date.

01 Feb 10:58

Modise: It's not Parliament's place to request the President to postpone SONA.

Whoever the president is, he [sets the date].


01 Feb 10:57

Modise: We have raised the issue of signal blockages, we have raised the issue of the four army personnel who were present last year.

There shall not be guns on the precinct, at least not without our knowledge.

If there is, the presiding officers will take issue with the matter.

We will not interfere in what happens outside the precincts of Parliament.


01 Feb 10:56

Modise: When SONA is convened, it brings together many people.

If you don't plan properly it could be a disaster.

You've got your most important departments and entities of the State under one roof.

So if Parliament was to say it will not discuss a gathering of this importance under its roof, a national key point, we would not be doing ourselves any favour.

Remember, it is not Parliament's decision to host. It is done at the behest and request of the President.


01 Feb 10:53

Modise now addressing the EFF's request to hold a motion of no confidence on the day.

"That matter yes, the speaker has received such a request. She did respond to them when she got the letter."

She declines to discuss the DA's request for postponement, as the request was not directed to the NCOP, of which she is chairperson.


01 Feb 10:50
Tau says there is consistent engagement with both the current ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma on the matter on Parliament's side.

01 Feb 10:49

NCOP deputy chairperson Raseriti Tau now says that the ANC is on record that SONA is on the agenda.

"The current head of state is head of the republic of South Africa and is expected to address the nation on February 8."


01 Feb 10:45

Tsenoli: Any means of illegal disruption should be dealt with accordingly.

We must not be on the fence about issues that in their nature undermine the democratic dispensation we have.


01 Feb 10:43

Tsenoli: "No, I'm not aware of any requests by the presiding officers for the president not to come.

"It cannot be correct that because there was threat of disruption that the president can't speak.

"What we should be doing is persuading people to steer clear of disruption.

"The occasion must be respected."


01 Feb 10:40
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli now answering first round of questions.

01 Feb 10:39

Reigning Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel Peters has also been invited, as well as former president's Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, and former Speaker Frene Ginwala.


01 Feb 10:37

01 Feb 10:36
An EWN journalist asks if the EFF's request to debate a motion of no confidence in President Zuma before the address will be entertained.

01 Feb 10:35

A Reuters journalist asks if President Zuma will be making the address on the scheduled February 8 date.

If so, are they concerned by the possible unrest that could occur in the House?


01 Feb 10:34
Mbete concludes her address.

Now over to a time for questions from present journalists.

01 Feb 10:33

01 Feb 10:32

Mbete: Around 1 000 members of the media from 140 publications applied for accreditation, but due to numbers it is not possible to accommodate everyone.

They could only accommodate 66 members of the media in the two media bays in the National Assembly chamber.

"We hope those 66 will be represented enough for the public to know what's going on."


01 Feb 10:31

Mbete: On the budget, we have to give you accurate information on the actual spend.

In 2014, the amount budgeted was R9.23m, but the actual spend was R6.35m.

In 2015, the budget was R4m, but actual spend was R3.15m.

In 2016, the budget was R3.94m, and actual spend was R2m.

In 2017, the budget was R4m, and the spend was R2.27m.

For this year, we have budgeted R4.3m.

"As in previous years, we expect actual spend to be lower than that budgeted," says Mbete.

"To keep costs down, we have done away with the gala dinner, where we have to feed people etc."


01 Feb 10:28

Mbete: As for the risks, there are specific ways in which they will try and limit the number of people on the precinct on the day.

Parliamentary workers for instance will go home earlier on the day.


01 Feb 10:27

Momentary break as someone's mobile phone goes off, and continues to ring. The owner doesn't look like they are in the room.

Mbete continues.


01 Feb 10:26
The guests come from all sectors of society, including youth, women, representatives of statutory institutions, international organisations, the mayor of Cape Town and civil society.

01 Feb 10:25

There is a total of 1 120 guests that have been invited to form of part of the occasion.


01 Feb 10:24
Mbete says there are normally only "military guard" personnel allowed on the precinct as ceremonial guards.

There were four military individuals last year who were on the precinct last year and that matter is currently in court. 

01 Feb 10:23
Still no mention of whether the matter will be postponed given the requests from the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters in objection to President Jacob Zuma's continued presidency.

01 Feb 10:22
Mbete now going through the normal procedure of the week, which includes an address from the president on Thursday, February 8.

The week after, from February 13-14, parties get a chance to debate the president's address, and on the 15th, he will get a chance to reply.

01 Feb 10:21

Mbete: "We must say the arrangements are normally the same. There is more attention being paid on a daily basis, and we do have the ordinary police around the precincts.

"Because there are more people applying to attend, there will be more interaction with the City of Cape Town.

"As presiding officers we aren't involved on the activities outside of Parliament. Ours is inside Parliament when the two Houses sit together."


01 Feb 10:19
Mbete: On this occasion, we bring together the three arms of the State under one roof.

As a result, we work with the justice, peace and security cluster to plan the event.

01 Feb 10:17

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete begins press conference.

She says the theme for State of the Nation Address 2018 is in honour of former president Nelson Mandela, who would have turned 100-years-old this year.


01 Feb 10:15

01 Feb 10:10

If Zuma delivers SONA, Ramaphosa is a lame duck

Things haven't been looking this good for the ANC in years.

The "Rainbow Revolution", as colleague Ferial Haffajee calls it, is sweeping across South Africa after the election of Cyril "Buffalo Soldier" Ramaphosa as party president just over a month ago.


01 Feb 10:09

Zuma must go before SONA - ANC national working committee

The ANC's national working committee (NWC) has instructed the party's top 6 officials to tell President Jacob Zuma to step down, sources have told News24.


01 Feb 10:09

Opposition parties pile on pressure for Zuma to go... SONA rather than later

Pressure is piling on President Jacob Zuma as opposition parties approach Parliament, with the Democratic Alliance seeking to postpone the State of the Nation Address and the Economic Freedom Fighters calling for a motion of no confidence in his leadership to be debated on the day that he is meant to deliver his speech.

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