'The answer is no' - Mbete rejects Zuma no confidence debate

A bid by the Democratic Alliance to have SONA postponed until a new president is in place has also been given the thumbs down.

FILE: National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has rejected a request by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to have its motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma debated in a special sitting of Parliament ahead of next week’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).

A bid by the Democratic Alliance to have Sona postponed until a new president is in place has also been given the thumbs down.

Parliament’s presiding officers have made it clear that the Sona will go ahead next week, no matter who is head of state.

President Zuma is under pressure to step down but the African National Congress’ Secretary-General Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte are insisting he finish his term.

The EFF wanted its motion of no confidence in Zuma debated and voted on before Sona next Thursday, but Speaker Mbete has dismissed this.

“The answer is no; we are not going to have a special sitting before the joint sitting to receive the Sona address.”

Mbete says, however, the motion itself is still on the table.

Sona is a special joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament that is requested by the President of the Republic to outline the government’s agenda for the next 12 months.

Parliament says a postponement is out of the question.

National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise said: “We have absolutely no intention as presiding officers, to approach any president and say 'you must not come and give the State of the Nation (Address)'. Remember that for us, it is the president that writes to us; whoever is president will address Sona. That’s all we know.”