Is Sona postponement the end of the road for Zuma?
The ANC has welcomed the postponement, saying its caucus will await the outcomes of the NEC scheduled for Wednesday to give guidance on the way forward.
JOHANNESBURG/ CAPE TOWN - The postponement on the State of the Nation Address (Sona) is being seen as the strongest indication yet that this could be the end of the road for President Jacob Zuma.
Since Tuesday morning, several African National Congress (ANC) leaders who attended the national working committee (NWC) meeting on Monday have been speaking to Eyewitness News about the likelihood of Sona being postponed.
The reasons they gave included if President Zuma was not to resign before Wednesday’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting, the party’s highest decision-making body would move to recall him and there wouldn’t be enough time for the party to finalise who would deliver the address.
Some sources are telling EWN that the president will be recalled on Wednesday night and that his removal will be put to a vote if his supporters don’t give in.
They say if he refuses to go even after a decision is made, Members of Parliament (MPs) will be instructed to vote in support of a motion of no confidence in him.
Earlier, the ANC indicated that it did not want things to get to this level and the party wouldn’t want to embarrass the president.
Political Analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana says it was always inevitable that Parliament would have to deal with party problems.
“They would not want to have this event disrupted or tainted by conflict because this ANC meant to herald something new.”
LISTEN: Baleka Mbete announces Sona postponement
SONA POSTPONEMENT WELCOMED
The ANC has welcomed it, saying its caucus will await the outcomes of the NEC scheduled for Wednesday to give guidance on the way forward.
The ANC says it understands the decision was based on the need to deliver the important speech in a conducive political environment.
The ANC’s Jackson Mthembu says they are happy with the decision.
“You cannot, with your eyes open, proceed for the umpteenth time to a Sona that will be disrupted. You cannot, with your eyes open, also proceed to Sona that will be chaotic where the likelihood of people being booted out by parliament security is very high.”
The Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuizen says the decision is a positive one.
“I think Zuma is on his way out, it would be unlikely that they would fire this type of round and not meet its mark.
“I think it was a good for Parliament and a good day for the opposition. And I think the institutional integrity of Parliament is finally standing up to Mr Zuma and saying we’re not going to allow you to ride a roughshod over us and use Parliament as your playground anymore.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters has welcomed the decision to delay Sona but the party is still insisting that its motion of no confidence in President Zuma goes ahead before the speech takes place.
EFF's Secretary-General Godrich Gardee said: “We are calling upon a motion of no confidence to be convened before the State of the Nation Address if Zuma does not resign. All we need is for him to tender his resignation letter.”
President Zuma has also come out to confirm that he requested the postponement.
He says this is due to “certain developments which make it not conducive to successfully hold the sitting and deliver Sona”.
Opposition parties had bombarded Parliament with requests to postpone Sona and they are now claiming a victory.
But ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu says the decision comes after internal discussions and that the presiding officers were given latitude to decide.
“We are happy that the presiding officers, informed by the prevailing political environment, have arrived at a decision and we welcome that decision.”
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said: “We think it’s a very responsible decision taken by the presiding officers as they say in consultation with the president of the country, Parliament at the moment has a very poor reputation in the eyes of people out there.”
OTHER THINGS TO DO BESIDES SONA
Meanwhile, Wesgro says people should not cancel flights and accommodation because of the postponement.
The investment agency's CEO Tim Harris says MPs and visitors should rather stay in Cape Town and attend events such as the Mining Indaba and visit tourist attractions.
“We encourage those people that have already booked their flights to come and enjoy what Cape Town and the Western Cape has to offer. We have many regions like the Overberg and the Garden Route where there’s plenty of water available.”
(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)