#Sona2016: A night of tension & fierce opposition

President Jacob Zuma told South Africa that govt is determined to turn the economy around.

President Jacob Zuma during his 2016 State of the Nation Address. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Despite a night of tension and fierce opposition in the National Assembly, President Jacob Zuma has told South Africa that government is determined to turn around the economy in the face of slow growth.

The president delivered his eighth State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament last night.

Zuma says poor growth is a huge concern as international factors are having a direct bearing on the economy.

"The IMF and the World Bank predict that the South African economy will grow by less than one percent this year."

But he says South Africans have to help change the situation.

"Let us work together to turn the situation around. It can be done. I thank you."

Government will also be looking at wasteful expenditure while having two capitals will also be discussed.

"Pretoria, as the administrative one and Cape Town, as the legislative capital. We believe that the matter requires the attention of Parliament soon."

Zuma also touched on measures to combat the drought, nuclear power plan and the municipal elections, along with talks around the new provident fund laws.

"Government is in discussion with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) about the matter and a solution is being sought."

"I am also happy to announce that the state-owned pharmaceutical company has been established."


But the evening got off to a rough start.

There was a fierce standoff, with Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema being told to leave the National Assembly along with members of his party.

EFF MPs raised numerous points of order during the president's speech before the presiding officers ordered them out of the chamber.

They left before security was called in, avoiding a repeat of last year's chaos.

WATCH: EFF escorted out of #Sona2016

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota was also asked to leave after he interrupted Zuma.

"The honourable president has already admitted before the nation and the Constitutional Court that he broke his oath - no I must say this - of office."

Zuma pushed ahead with his address, dealing with incidents of racism.

"There is a need to confront the demon of racism. Human Rights Day, March 21st, will be commemorated as the National Day Against Racism this year."


Energy experts have welcomed the president's careful approach to procure nuclear power in the country.

Zuma said government will only procure nuclear power on a scale the country can afford.

"Let me emphasise that we will only procure nuclear on a scale and pace that our country can afford."

Dr Anthonie Cilliers, a lecturer at the School for Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at North-West University, says he's happy the president has confirmed government's commitment to carry out the Integrated Resource Plan 20 in a carefully thought-out manner.

The plan proposes transforming the country's energy generation from the current coal-dominated one to a more balanced one by 2030.

"It's actually quite a good thing that he said this. There was quite an outcry from the public and a concern, to ensure that we don't go into anything without making sure that we can afford it and the cost is actually calculated before we start something like this."

However Professor Hartmut Winkler, from the University Of Johannesburg's Physics Department says although he welcomes Zuma's careful stance towards nuclear power, he says it seems the president has realised the country cannot afford it.

"They would only pursue nuclear power on the scale and pace that the country can afford. That contradicts what he said that he remains committed to an amount of megawatts in the next decade, because if you really want to achieve that you have to go full steam and I don't think they're going to manage that."


A political analyst says Zuma skirted around important issues during his speech last night.

Zuma focused heavily on the economy during his address saying the country is in danger of losing its investment grade status and that the situation will require an effective turnaround plan.

Professor Willie Breytenbach from Stellenbosch University, says Zuma played it safe during his speech.

"There's actually a long list of issues that he simply skirted around, like water and specifically, land reform.

He tried not to defend the left or the right within his support group. There was absolutely no mention of the Nkandla issues or about Minister Nene."

Some political analysts have described Zuma's speech as dull and uninspiring.

Moeletsi Mbeki says it didn't address the real issues while, Political Studies Professor at Wits University, Daryl Glaser, says there were at least two elephants in the room.

"The speech itself was very much like previous speeches, rather dull, and failed to address the dramas of the moment."

Sona2016: Political leaders react