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Speaker says Sona delay request 'receiving consideration'

Opposition parties want the State of the Nation speech, which President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to deliver on Thursday, postponed until after a no-confidence vote on Zuma’s leadership.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address in Parliament. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - There are indications that National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete may be reconsidering opposition parties’ requests to postpone Thursday night’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).

This marks an about-turn on Mbete’s position last week, when she rejected opposition pleas to shelve the event until the African National Congress (ANC) has sorted out its leadership issues.

Mbete is set to meet the leaders of all parties represented in Parliament, including the ANC, on Tuesday afternoon, where opposition leaders are expected to press their case for a postponement.

The Speaker has informed the Democratic Alliance (DA) that she is considering its request that an urgent meeting of the joint programming committee be called to decide whether or not Sona should be delayed.

Last week Mbete was adamant that the address would go ahead.

Chief Whip John Steenhuisen: "It would be far more feasible to delay it and postpone it than the cost of going ahead with it where it is simply going to become a farce."

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) is expected to take a decision on Zuma’s position as head of state on Wednesday.

Another motion of no confidence in him, this time from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), also looms later this month.