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#Sona2016: Zuma expected to deliver toughest speech yet

President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address in Parliament at 7pm this evening.

President Jacob Zuma rubs his brow during a speech from Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa during the Sona2015 debate. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN
President Jacob Zuma,SONA,Sona 2016,President Jacob Zumas performance
Local

CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver his toughest State of the Nation Address (Sona) yet amid threats of interruptions from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and popular protest against his leadership.

He will tonight face Members of Parliament (MPs) who have been calling for him to be impeached if the Constitutional Court finds he breached his oath of office in relation to the Nkandla saga.

South Africa's fragile economy, the country's higher education funding problems and the prevailing drought are some of the pressing issues Zuma is under pressure to address when he takes to the podium at 7pm.

The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s John Steenhuisen says the president will deliver his speech this year a politically-weakened man.

“Both internally in his party, over the ‘Nenegate’ matter and also over the state of the economy.”

The official opposition says Zuma must commit to averting another credit ratings downgrade.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Mulder wants to see a focus on job creation and economic growth.

“The president should be prepared to announce that certain policy approaches did not work in the past and be willing to amend them, for example, creating jobs by looking at labour legislation.”

LISTEN: President Zuma: South Africa is happy with me

POLITICS AROUND ZUMA 

When the president stands up tonight, he will know opposition parties are keen to use things like Nkandla to hurt both him and the African National Congress (ANC). 

But he also knows the ANC caucus is likely to rally around him despite what happened at the Constitutional Court this week. 

While he may appear weaker than he has in the past, it seems unlikely ANC MPs won’t rally in his defence tonight.
 
At the same time, Zuma might want to try and grab the political initiative by making announcements around the economy and how to create jobs.

State of the Nation 2016: South Africa in numbers

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY...

The Banking Association South Africa says reassuring international ratings agencies must be a priority. 

The association has been involved in several meetings held between Zuma, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the private sector. 

The association says government must send a clear message to the ratings agencies, addressing all of the major concerns they have.

It says South Africa is in need of foreign investment and must create an environment more conducive to this. 

Some of the fundamental issues it wants Zuma to address range from interventions aimed at growing the manufacturing sector, to funding solutions for tertiary education.

Government is being urged to manage its budget carefully, support municipalities and bring the private sector into the fold more.

Meanwhile, the EFF has threatened to interrupt Zuma’s speech if he doesn't explain why he fired Nhlanhla Nene, causing the currency to plummet.

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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