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#Sona2016: Mbete, Parliament pulling out all the stops for smooth event

Baleka Mbete says despite threats of disruption, the focus will be on what happens inside the precinct.

Baleka Mbete addresses a gathering of ANC supporters at the 104 birthday rally in Grabouw. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN
President Jacob Zuma,Baleka Mbete,National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete,Sona 2016
Local Politics

CAPE TOWN – Parliament is pulling out all the stops to ensure President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address goes off without undue incident tomorrow.

National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete has condemned Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) threats to disrupt, and says the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) is out of order for threatening civil war against those who try to do so.

The ‘Zuma Must Fall’ movement, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Ses'khona Peoples Rights Movement have all been given permission for separate marches, involving about 7,000 people in Cape Town’s CBD tomorrow.

The marchers are unlikely to be allowed anywhere near Parliament, where police, sniffer dogs and Defence Force personnel were much in evidence yesterday.

Mbete says despite threats of disruption, there are no extraordinary security measures in place for the president’s address.

“This issue of security, I think needs to be demystified. It’s not special or anything different this year from 21 years ago when we arrived here. There’s always cooperation between the three arms of the state, including the State Security forces.”

Mbete says for Parliament, the focus will be on what happens inside the precinct. 

She says she won’t hesitate to use a new rule allowing for defiant members to be forcibly ejected.

WATCH: Mbete to rule #Sona2016 with an iron fist.

SECURITY BEEFED UP

The City of Cape Town and law enforcement bodies are readying themselves for a series of protests before Sona tomorrow.

Three organisations have been granted permission to stage marches.

It’s expected to be an eventful day before Zuma’s address in Parliament.

Zuma Must Fall supporters will gather at Greenmarket Square and march to the Grand Parade, while DA demonstrators will assemble in Mill Street.

Ses’khona has only been given permission to demonstrate around Keizergracht and have been cautioned not to mobilise more than 1,500 people. 

The #ZumaMustFall gathering may allow 5,000 participants and the DA 500.

At the same time, the police service has assured Parliament that officers will ensure the event goes off without a hitch.

This year’s address is building up to possibly be yet another tumultuous event, amid threats Zuma’s address will be disrupted.

The police’s Bonang Mgwenya told Parliament’s Police Portfolio Committee yesterday the South African Police Services is ready for anything.

“In terms of the state of readiness, I can say that we’ve got an operational plan in place. In drawing the operational we’ve done the evaluation, we looked at all environments we’ve deployed members in terms of the plan.”
(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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