No disruptions will be allowed when President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nationa Address (SONA) next week. This is according National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise.
Modise was answering media questions during a briefing on preparations for the SONA.
Earlier this month, firebrand EFF leader, Julius Malema, addressing a rally in Schweizer-Reneke, North West, threatened to disrupt the opening of Parliament on the 13th of February if President Cyril Ramaphosa does not fire Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan for misleading government over the situation at Eskom.
“I want to tell Cyril Ramaphosa today that if he can’t fire Pravin before the State of the Nation Address, the State of the Nation Address shall be about Pravin. We will stand up there. We will stop him from speaking. We will tell him you must fire Pravin because we must protect South Africa’s assets. If Ramaphosa is not prepared to protect our assets by firing Pravin, then Ramaphosa must go,” Malema said at the time.
The Speaker, however, says the Joint Rules of Parliament will apply if there are any disruptions.
Modise says the only item on the agenda for the sitting will be the President’s Address to the Nation.
“That is the only item we are going to entertain. We are entertaining that item because the State of the Nation Address agenda is actually determined by the President in terms of that section (84:2(d) of the constitution when he asks to be hosted. So, the agenda is that of the President. And no, we have no plan under or behind scenes to do anything. Any Joint Sitting is held and is chaired in accordance with the joint rules of that sitting and that is the only thing that we will be applying. We have not and do not intend to go out of our way to plan anything extraordinary. The rules of the Joint Sitting will apply”
More than R2 million has been set aside for SONA.
Modise says well-known young Xitsonga praise poet, Masingita Shibambu, known as Ntombi Ya Mutshonga, has been chosen to be the Imbongi during the SONA.
While costs on other activities have been minimised, Modise says the services of a praise singer will be retained.
“In keeping with the character of this institution as an African Parliament, an Imbongi, a traditional poet, will recite the poem as the procession led by the Head of State is ushered into the National Assembly – a young poet Miss Masingita Shibambu, well known as Ntobi Ya Mutsonga from Matiyani Village at Malamulele has been selected as an Imbongi for this SONA. She will recite in XiTsonga. The languages of poetry are considered on a rotation basis. And this year it is the chance for the Xitsonga language.”
Modise says Parliament is ready to host what would be the second State of the Nation Address in the same financial year which ends at the end of March.
She says the guests who have so far confirmed their attendance of SONA are former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.
Former President FW De Klerk, former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, as well as former Speaker of the first Parliament, Frene Ginwala.