Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbethe, her deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli and NCOP chair Thandi Modise addressed members of the media ahead of the Sitting on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver what is expected to be his last State of the nation address as ANC president.

The Presiding Officers of Parliament say that they can’t explain the reason for the increase in number of members of the South African National Defence Force on security duty at this year’s State of the Nation Address. They however are clear that those soldiers won’t be deployed in the Parliamentary precinct.

President Jacob Zuma has authorised the deployment of 441 SANDF members for this year’s State of the Nation Address to maintain “law and order”.

This number is more than double the 188 soldiers deployed in 2015. In 2013,168 soldiers were deployed.

NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise says the President’s use of the words “law and order” is no different from other years when he authorised the deployment of SANDF members to SONA. She however says they don’t know the reason for the increase in numbers this year.

Speaker Baleka Mbete says the soldiers deployed by President Zuma won’t be in the Parliamentary precinct. She says they will use the Parliamentary Protection Services and the usual SAPS members deployed at the institution.

This year’s SONA has attracted a lot of media interest. There are over 70 media houses with 740 journalists accredited. Mbete has assured journalists that, they will be able to work freely.

The Presiding Officers say they are guarding the issue of separation of powers. They say measures have been taken to ensure that they run a successful SONA. Former President Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele have confirmed their attendance.

See the full media briefing on the video link below:

– By Lulama Matya