Parliament bracing for disruptions during State of the Nation Address

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has already signalled its intention to humiliate President Jacob Zuma should he take to the podium during the joint sitting of both Houses on Thursday night.

NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise (left) and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (right) at a media briefing on the 2018 State of the Nation Address. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Parliament is bracing against possible protests and disruption during the State of the Nation Address (Sona) next week.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has already signalled its intention to humiliate President Jacob Zuma should he take to the podium during the joint sitting of both Houses on Thursday night.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says they’re planning for Zuma to deliver the address, unless told differently by the ANC, which is trying to negotiate his early exit.

Mbete has turned down opposition parties’ pleas to postpone the event until a new president is in place. She’s also rejected an EFF request for its motion of no confidence in Zuma to be debated ahead of Sona.

National Assembly deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli has spoken out against threats to disrupt Sona.

“We take exception, quite frankly, to threats of disruption – they should be rejected with the contempt they deserve.”

The EFF however has made its intentions clear, should it be President Jacob Zuma who delivers the address. The party’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi:

“Even if he may be empowered at the moment by the Constitution to convene the two Houses, we are not going to allow a situation where it is business as usual with a person who has violated the Constitution.”

National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise says Parliament’s told security cluster ministers that there must be no signal jamming or the carrying of guns by members of the police or the military inside its precincts.

"We raised the matter quite sharply," she told a briefing on Thursday.