Opposition parties determined to ensure Zuma does not deliver SONA

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Opposition parties in Parliament are determined to ensure that President Jacob Zuma does not deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) scheduled for Thursday next week.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) want a motion of no confidence in the President be scheduled before the SONA, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) is pushing that the event be postponed until the issue of the state presidency is resolved by the ANC and Parliament.

Both parties have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly in the last two days.  President Jacob Zuma could face the ninth motion of no confidence in his presidency since he took office.

This is if the EFF  have their way. The EFF has written to the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete requesting a meeting to discuss if a parliamentary session can be held before the SONA.

“So we want Parliament to be convened earlier so that the motion in no confidence can be tabled. This is because there are so many developments of which the court outcomes implicate Mr Zuma. We believe that the majority of MPs have shifted in relation to how they feel in relations to confidence if Zuma should lead the country or not,” says EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is also pushing to scupper the all-important address which outlines the government’s programme of action for the year ahead. It has requested a postponement of the event contending that it is not in the best interest of the country for President Zuma to deliver the address when it is not clear whether he will remain the Head of State.

DA leader Musi Maimane says President Zuma has lost the confidence of both his party and the people.

“Let us postpone State of the Nation Address, let us settle this issue of who should be the president of the Republic and once Parliament has convened to remove Mr Zuma and elect a new president then that president with the mandate of Parliament, the people of South Africa, on their respective part can lead the plans we put forward, they can execute and can deliver for the people in the absence of that State of the Nation Address next week, will just only be a show and a complete joke for the people of South Africa.”

Other opposition parties may join the fray.  “The United Democratic Movement has written to all political party leaders of the opposition in Parliament proposing that we meet on Friday at 10 o’clock to discuss the State of the Nation Address and also the proposal for a vote of no confidence. It would be great if the ANC was to recall Zuma on or before the 8 February so as to have a smooth State of the Nation Address and focus on the future,” says the United Democratic Movement’s Bantu Holomisa.

The African National Congress meanwhile appears unfazed. It has described the EFF’s request for a motion of no confidence as frivolous despite the narrow 198 against 177 votes that defeated the last motion in November last year. There were nine abstentions at that time with some ANC Mps having clearly voted with the opposition to oust their leader.

“As the ANC we will always support any decision that is taken by the speaker in line with the rules of Parliament. This motion like many before will fail. We believe that any challenges surrounding President Jacob Zuma the ANC is dealing with those matters. The NWC that sat this month also mandated the national officials to engage President Zuma on these motions of no confidence and any other issues that relate to the dynamic link between Union Buildings and Luthuli House,” says spokesperson Khusela Sangoni.

The Speaker of the National Assembly’s office has confirmed receipt of the EFF and DA’s letters. It says that as SONA is a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament both the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise will have to consider the correspondence and reply accordingly.

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