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#Sona2016: Zuma faces an uphill battle

As the president prepares to deliver his Sona, analysts say he faces a battle to regain confidence.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

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CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - As President Jacob Zuma prepares to deliver his ninth State of the Nation Address (Sona), analysts are warning he faces an uphill battle in trying to regain the trust of the business community and any disruption by the red berets would be risky.

Zuma is set to deliver his toughest speech yet, at 7pm this evening.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have threatened to interrupt Zuma's speech if he doesn't start by explaining to the nation why he fired former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

#SONA2016 Barbed wire, security outside Parliament ahead of President's speech. RE pic.twitter.com/kHm8PGCmzh

But analyst Ralph Mathekga says while the president's reshuffling was a huge political blunder, he doesn't owe the EFF or any other party an explanation.

"He was exercising a presidential prerogative, so for the EFF actually to hold him to ransom regarding this, it looks as if this party is determined to push the politics of disruption to the utmost. I think there are people who are interested in hearing the president's speech."

Zuma also has his work cut out for him tonight with added pressure to restore confidence in the economy and his ability to lead.

Economist at Pan African Investment & Research Services Iraj Abedian says the president has shattered the trust of the business community.

"The best he can hope for is to build trust again because quite frankly, unless he establishes some credibility again in terms of consistency, nobody in business can take him seriously and have a rapport with him."

SECURITY ON STANDBY

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete meanwhile says security officials won't be allowed inside the National Assembly during tonight's address, but she has warned if the situation spirals out of control, they will be called to intervene.

#ZumaMustFall Organisers in discussion with SAPS, give an undertaking to follow the law and instructions. XK pic.twitter.com/CSamN2CHrn

Mbete has warned the EFF will be removed if they are not willing to obey the rules of the house.

"Nobody else comes in unless the situation is of such a nature that it does warrant the security forces. In any case, whether or not they intervene in a situation, it always depends on the details."

She says no questions are allowed in tonight's sitting.

"They have not come to me with anything in particular about the sitting this evening. I hope they'll stay within the rules and they will have to be removed should they not cooperate with the chair."

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) chief whip Narend Singh says while disruptions are expected in the house before Zuma delivers his speech, he believes Zuma must be given a hearing.

"We expect of him to talk on behalf of government mainly on issues on the high rate of unemployment, particularly among the youth. We expect him to deal with the economy of the country which is in dire stress."

Singh says included in his speech, Zuma is also expected to provide realistic solutions to South Africa's problems.

Singh says the current drought is just one of the country's problems that needs solving.

"There is no point in him coming there and telling us what the problem is. We all know what the problem is. But how is his government, utilising the existing budget, going to address some of the crises that we are facing?"

"We're also expecting him to make pronouncements of how we're going to deal with the problems that the students are facing and the problem of the drought, by making practical suggestions and implementable delivery points."

PROTESTERS TAKE TO THE STREETS AHEAD OF SONA

Several ' Zuma Must Fall' marches are taking place in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria this afternoon, while security around Parliament and its precinct has been bolstered.

Police have been placed at every entrance to Parliament and many streets have been cordoned off.

Chants of #ZumaMustFall #ZumaMustFall ring out in the streets of Cape Town. XK pic.twitter.com/99uGfSAkT6

Parliament says the heightened security detail at the National Assembly is to protect the "integrity of the institution".

National Assembly deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenodi says there's a higher police presence than last year.

"The first responsibility that we as Parliament demand of the security forces is to do everything in their power to protect the integrity of the occasion."

Parliamentary officials say strict rules are in place to ensure the event goes off without a hitch.

#ZumaMustFall chanting "Zuma must fall", crowd is approaching Strand street. NM pic.twitter.com/fVSX0B4lX4

Protesters have been asked to keep a distance of at least 600 metres from the National Assembly.

#SeskhonaMarch Riot police are on stand by in case of any eventualities. iMM pic.twitter.com/Whjjt6WIo8

OPPOSITION CALLS FOR ZUMA'S HEAD

Opposition MPs say the president should announce his resignation when he addresses Parliament this evening.

The EFF and Democratic Alliance (DA) have called on Zuma to step aside for the sake of the country.

"President Jacob Zuma has an incredible capacity to ignore the public mood," according to Mathekga.

As he prepares to deliver his speech tonight, will Zuma be able to ignore calls for him to resign?

The 'Zuma Must Fall' movement and members of the opposition want him out of office.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane's spokesperson Mabine Seabe said, "This is on behalf of the 8.3 million unemployed South Africans who can't find jobs because of the policies and the mismanagement of the economy by President Jacob Zuma. So it's clear that we have a president who is not in control."

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