‘We’ll block Zuma’s Sona’

2018-02-02 13:30
President Jacob Zuma.

President Jacob Zuma. (File)

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Opposition parties have vowed to block President Jacob Zuma from delivering next week’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) should the ANC fail to recall him before the event.

“We are not going to be addressed by Jacob Zuma, that must be very clear,” Economic Freedom Front (EFF) chairperson Dali Mpofu said on Thursday.

This, as the ANC continued to send mixed signals around whether Zuma, who is currently under fire from his own party, will still be the country’s president when Sona is delivered on Thursday.

Despite the ANC’s top six leaders, including party president Cyril Ramaphosa, having been mandated by the national executive committee (NEC) to engage Zuma around his exit, it’s still not clear whether he will be gone by Thursday.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa said: “Both the ANC NEC and the national working committee (NWC) had mandated the top six leadership to ask Zuma to resign in the interest of the country. However, from where we’re sitting as the opposition it appears as if they have failed to do what they had been asked.

“If the top six leaders continue to play these games then as opposition leaders we will be left with no other option but to hold a meeting to plan what we will do now that the ANC leaders are not acting.”

The opposition leaders did not want to give further details on the precise measures likely to be employed in blocking Zuma from delivering Sona.

However, Parliament’s presiding officers have already indicated that security will be extremely tight on the day, suggesting authorities were anticipating violent protests by the opposition.

Briefing the media on Thursday on Parliament’s Sona preparations, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said measures had been put in place to deal with any attempts to disrupt the event. “We must not be on the fence about issues that in their nature undermine the democratic dispensation we have.

“It cannot be correct that because there is a threat of disruption, the president can’t speak. The occasion must be respected,” he said.

Tsenoli, along with Parliament’s other presiding officers, including Speaker Baleka Mbete, told the media that the National Assembly was working on the premise that it was Zuma who would be delivering the Sona.

Uncertainty over whether the ANC top six will have forced Zuma out of office by the time Sona is delivered resulted in the DA writing a letter to Mbete, asking that the event be postponed to give ANC leaders enough time to replace the embattled head of state.

On the other hand, the EFF has requested Mbete to ensure that a motion of no confidence in Zuma debate precedes the Sona should the ANC fail to recall him before the event.

However, the presiding officers indicated that Mbete did not have the power to postpone Sona as it was the country’s president’s event and said no motion of confidence would be debated before Sona.

“We are not going to postpone the Sona as per the DA request. This is a joint sitting and they did not bother to ask us,” National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise said.

Zuma’s presidency has been dogged by allegations of corruption and state capture. The embattled president faces potential corruption charges following a recent court judgment overturning the 2009 National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decision to withdraw the 783 counts of fraud and corruption he had faced at the time. The NPA will announce in two weeks whether the prosecuting body will be reinstating the charges after Zuma on Wednesday submitted representations to the body on why he should not face charges.

The NWC’s decision to get Zuma relieved of his presidential duties is said to be informed by fears within the party that it could lose next year’s national general elections should the embattled head of state be allowed to stay on as president.

ANC national communication manager Khusela Diko said the party was expecting Zuma to deliver Sona.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma

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