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Opposition parties condemn threats to disrupt #Sona2016

The EFF warns it will intervene if Zuma doesn’t first explain why he fired former Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

EFF leader Julius Malema makes his way to the stage to address party members at the Constitutional court after judgement was reserved in the Nkandla matter on 09 February 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - With a day to go before President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona), opposition parties are condemning threats to disrupt the event.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has warned it will intervene, in one way or another, if Zuma doesn't first explain why he fired former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

Parties are hoping there won't be a recurrence of the drama that unfolded last year when EFF Members of Parliament (MPs) were forcibly removed from the National Assembly Chamber.

Julius Malema and his caucus are again at odds with fellow opposition MPs who say President Zuma should be allowed to deliver his speech without incident.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said, "EFF is threatening to disrupt the Sona, it detracts from the very real problem facing South Africa."

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh said, "And irrespective of what the president has to say, you'll have to grin and bear it on that day because we've an opportunity to respond in that debate."

Last year, the EFF refused to vote in favour of a new rule that allows for defiant MPs to be forcibly ejected from the chamber.

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.

The City of Cape Town has confirmed its granted permits to the #ZumaMustFall movement, the Ses'khona People's Rights Movement and the DA.

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."

Last month, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete told diplomats in Pretoria that preparations are in place to ensure Sona will run smoothly.

Mbete and other presiding officers of Parliament met with members of the diplomatic corps.

Parliament said the diplomats were briefed on logistical arrangements for Sona and security for the event, which was marred by mayhem and violence last year.

Mbete also fielded questions on the possible disruption of the speech, which marks the opening of Parliament.

Tough new rules governing the conduct of Members of Parliament have been drawn up, but have yet to be adopted by Parliament.