Parliament says it will rely on its rules to ensure that on Thursday evening’s State of the Nation Address does not descend into chaos.
This follows threats by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that it will disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech.
In 2014, EFF MPs disrupted Parliament during former President Jacob Zuma’s response to the Nkandla saga.
Ramaphosa will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address on Thursday, but this is his second since he was elected president after last year’s general elections.
It is widely expected that he will talk about how government will stimulate the struggling economy, address matters around poor performing State-Owned Enterprises and job creation.
The EFF is insisting that Ramaphosa fire Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, for allegedly misleading the President about the state of affairs at Eskom.
The party has claimed in a statement that there is a plan to get police officers into the National Assembly to violently eject EFF MPs, if necessary.
However, Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo has called on individuals with proof of this to produce it.
Mothapo says, “The existing joint rules of Parliament sufficiently protect sittings of the houses and committees from disorder. Open threats to disrupt the work of Parliament, including the propagation of conspiracy theories, are not in the interests of the public.”
He says, “Any MP or any parties with evidence of any alleged plot to unlawfully use police in the Chamber should come forward.”
Tsenoli warns EFF
National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli has sent a strong warning to EFF members that if they carry out their plan to disrupt Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address today they will be removed from Parliament.
Tsenoli says the rules of the House are clear.
He says, “We can’t allow people in the house to be disruptive. We adapted our rules because of this and there will be no hesitation by presiding officers to carry out that responsibility that in the event that the presiding officers feel that what’s happening is out of order, that they are not even listening to those who ask to talk to them gently and if they choose not to do so, their place is in the streets.”
Several former presidents of the country, except Jacob Zuma are expected to attend the State of the Nation Address.
Parliament’s presiding officers initially said that Zuma would not attend but on Wednesday a message from Parliament’s twitter account said that he would show up.
A statement from Zuma’s lawyers however clarified the matter, saying he was receiving medical treatment abroad.
Some of the prominent guests who have confirmed their attendance are former presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and FW De Klerk, former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete as well as former Speaker of the first Parliament, Frene Ginwala.
Zuma did not attend last year’s SONA and will be absent again this year. Parliament is budgeting just more than R2 million for the event.
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