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‘Order needs to be kept at Sona’

The EFF has threatened to disrupt Jacob Zuma’s address in order to demand when he will “pay back the money.”

FILE: The EFF has threatened to disrupt Jacob Zuma’s address in order to demand when he will “pay back the money.” Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A legal advisor to presiding officers in Parliament says order will have to be kept during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) next month.

Advocate Modibedi Eric Phindela says different rules apply to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the Sona is a joint sitting with its own procedures.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has threatened to disrupt Zuma's address in order to demand 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.

Phindela says matters raised in the National Assembly can't be raised in a joint sitting of Parliament.

On Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said EFF leader Julius 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's obliged to do so four times a year.

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

She's 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.

With Malema clearly trying to the set the agenda for a fractious start to the parliamentary year, Mbete's made it clear she won't stand for Malema's threats to disrupt Zuma's Sona address that evening.