No special sitting for motion against Zuma before SONA – Mbete

2018-02-01 15:30
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. (Paul Herman, News24)

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. (Paul Herman, News24)

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2018-02-01 13:56

When it comes to the 2018 State of the Nation Address, the show will go on, according to Parliament's presiding officers. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town – There will be no special sitting to debate a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma before the State of the Nation Address (SONA), National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says.

Mbete, National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Thandi Modise and their deputies briefed the media on Thursday on the preparations for SONA 2018.

They said SONA 2018 would go ahead as planned on February 8 irrespective of a mooted change in the Presidency.

- Read more: SONA to go ahead 'whoever is president'

In answering questions around another issue, Mbete said a request by the EFF to hold a special sitting before the address to debate a motion of no confidence against Zuma would not be entertained.

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

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the arguments to hold the sitting ahead of the address were not persuasive enough, and thus a sitting before SONA would be "unlikely".

After the briefing, Mbete told journalists that a proposed date to debate the EFF's motion was being discussed, but only for after SONA.

"At this point, the information that we have is that the head of state is President Jacob Zuma," she said.

"So as far as we're concerned that is who is going to deliver the State of the Nation Address, until we hear different information."

'The president calls SONA'

The presiding officers were unanimous that the event would go ahead regardless of who delivers the address.

The responsibility to request a SONA lay with the president, they said.

"We have absolutely no intention as presiding officers to approach any president to say: 'you must not come and give the State of the Nation Address'," Modise said.

"Remember that for us it is a president or the president that writes to us. Whoever is president will address us."

This was in response to questions on the DA's request to postpone the proceedings until after Zuma exits the office of the president.

Media reports have suggested that Zuma could be recalled by his party before the February 8 address.

According to section 90 of the Constitution, the deputy president assumes the powers and functions of the president in the event of a vacancy in the Presidency.

A new president must be elected by Parliament within 30 days.

'It's a matter for the ANC'

Engagements between the ANC's top six and the Presidency were "consistent" and ongoing, said NCOP deputy chairperson Raseriti Tau.

"It's a matter for the ANC and let's leave it to the ANC and focus on the responsibilities of Parliament," he said.

The threat of violence and disruptions has caused concern over Zuma addressing the republic possibly for the last time, both inside and outside the Parliament precinct.

Deputy Speaker Tsenoli said it would be wrong to postpone proceedings due to fear of disruption.

"It cannot be correct that because there is a threat of disruption that we tell the head of state not to speak here.

"What we should be doing is dissuading people from disrupting... a democratic institution. The occasion must be respected."

Security issues were being handled jointly with the City of Cape Town and ministers from the justice, peace and security cluster to manage unrest.

Events that take place outside the precinct fall under the responsibility of the city and the police.

R4.3m has been budgeted for the event this year, down from previous years.

Guests who have been invited include former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, hip hop star Cassper Nyovest and reigning Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  baleka mbete  |  cape town  |  politics  |  parliament 2018

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