DA to force SONA postponement


Karabo Ngoepe

JOHANNESBURG- The Democratic Alliance is still resolute about the postponement of the State of the Nation Address despite Parliament having indicated it would go ahead.

The party’s chief whip, John Steenhuisen n Friday said they would write again to the speaker Baleka Mbete and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, to request that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) be postponed.

“The DA maintains that South Africans simply cannot be subjected to a SONA delivered by a discredited president heading a discredited administration,” he said.

“Following a formal request from the leader of the opposition, Mmusi Maimane, on 31 January, the Speaker responded and indicated that she has “no power” to accede to the request and postpone the SONA. This is not only entirely unacceptable but a clear misinterpretation of what the Rules of Parliament allow.”

Steenhuisen said while the Constitution and the Joint Rules of Parliament indicate that the President may summon the NA and NCOP for extraordinary sittings to conduct special business such as the SONA, it remains within the prerogative of the Presiding Officers to determine when this happens.

“The DA will, therefore, request that the Presiding Officers arrange for the Joint Programming Committee to convene urgently to reschedule SONA and allow the ordinary business of Parliament to continue notwithstanding,” he said.

On Thursday, Mbete said Jacob Zuma was still the president of the country and as such, he would be delivering the state-of-the-nation address next week, unless Parliament is told otherwise. She said there were ongoing processes leading to the night but as things stand, Zuma will deliver the SONA.

“At this point, the information we have is that the head of state is President Jacob Zuma so as far as we are concerned that is who is going to deliver the SONA until we hear different information,” she said.

Steenhuisen said they would not allow things to continue as though it was “business as usual”. He said criminal charges of corruption against Zuma have been revived and it was now widely expected that he would be removed as president of South Africa by either the ANC or through a parliamentary impeachment motion.

“These extraordinary circumstances warrant extraordinary action – the ANC cannot hold the country hostage as we wait for their party to recall their lame-duck president. South Africa cannot spend millions on SONA when, in effect, neither he nor his administration will be around to implement any of the policies or plans he announces. The ANC must clean-house and remove ZUMA as a matter of urgency or we risk SONA becoming an R11 million farce at the expense of tax-payers. The Presiding Officers must, therefore, put South Africa first and postpone SONA,” he said.

Mbete on Friday also announced that there would be a motion of no confidence debate in Zuma on February 22. This was in response to the Economic Freedom Fighters request. She said the determination had taken into account the Programme of the National Assembly, including the State of the Nation Address, the debate on the Address, the President’s reply to the debate and the tabling of the national budget on 21 February.