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Maimane warns DA MPs to behave during Sona

The EFF has threatened to disrupt Zuma’s Sona in order to find out when he will “pay back the money.”

FILE: DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane has instructed his party's Members of Parliament (MPs) to abide by the rules when President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) next month.

Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters ( EFF) have threatened to disrupt Zuma's address in order to find out when he will "pay back the money" they believe he owes relating to the multimillion rand security upgrades at his Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Nkandla upgrades came under heavy criticism in a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in March last year, but Zuma has always maintained he did nothing wrong.

Madonsela's report said Zuma had "benefited unduly" from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.

Parliament has made it clear any questions will be deemed out of order, setting the stage for a possible showdown.

Maimane says any disruption of Zuma's Sona next month will detract from the burning issues confronting the country

"Our nation is in crisis and Parliament must perform its constitutional role in holding those in power to account for it."

Maimane says the EFF's planned disruption of the event might be good for high drama but he says ignoring Parliament's rules could erode its ability to hold the government to account.

DISRUPTING ZUMA SEEN AS 'INTIMIDATION'

On Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said Malema's threat to put questions to Zuma during his Sona could be seen as intimidation.

In a letter to Malema, she warns him against falling foul of the laws around the powers, privileges and immunities of Parliament.

Mbete says her office and the presidency are working on dates for Zuma to come and answer MPs' questions.

In terms of Parliament's rules, the president is obliged to do so four times a year.

Mbete says once finalised, the dates will be included in Parliament's programme.

She told Malema there is thus no reason to convene a special sitting of the National Assembly ahead of Parliament's official opening on 12 February.