It’s all systems go for next week’s SONA
Babalo Ndenze | 2017-02-02 17:20:19.0
EFF members clashed with parliament protection services during the State of the Nation Address in Cape Town. File photo. The EFF wants to debate “the threat to our constitution and democracy of having Mr Zuma continue as President of the Republic of South Africa” according to Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER/THE TIMES
It’s all systems go for next week’s State of the Nation Address (Sona)‚ where an unprecedented number of international and local media are expected‚ amid reports of tightened security and a ring of steel around parliament.
At least seven streets around the parliamentary precinct will be closed for two days before Thursday’s address by President Jacob Zuma‚ according to an internal memorandum from secretary to parliament Gengezi Mgidlana to all staff members.
- Body searches are also on the cards as a increased number of security officials are expected to be deployed to the centre of Cape Town.
- Parliamentary officials who are not performing any specific duties on the day have also been instructed to work from home on the day.
- No tours or tour groups will be allowed in parliament from Monday for the whole week.
- From Wednesday entrance into parliament or any of its buildings will be restricted to the presentation of accreditation for the event.
- A special entrance for accredited media will also be created and journalists will be restricted to the “media square” and designated areas.
Mgidlana on Thursday briefed the media on parliament’s readiness to host this year’s address adding that the event would take the “same format” as in previous years.
“In terms of our plans and preparations‚ we are quite comfortable. It’s all systems go at that level. won’t be any glitches in that regard‚” said Mgidlana.
Mgidlana denied that there would be “extensive security measures” this time.
“It has not really changed in terms of format from we have done in the past in terms of security. The idea of securitisation of parliament is false and doesn’t have a foundation‚” said Mgidlana.
He added however that the SA National Defence‚ the SAPS and the State Security Agency prepared their own plans and preparations.
“That’s what they normally do in this event. They have a cluster they call JPCS cluster. We also want to highlight that really from our perspective‚ SONA is not about security. Freedom of movement of journalists in parliament? I think journalists in parliament have been guaranteed freedom of movement‚” said Mgidlana.
Mgidlana assured journalists that no cellphone signals would be blocked and footage of proceedings won’t be cut.
Meanwhile the Economic Freedom Fighters have written a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete to demand that instead of giving Zuma an opportunity to address the joint sitting‚ the date must be set aside to debate the “failure” by parliament to hold Zuma to account.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said this was “despite a clear ruling by the Constitutional Court that he had failed to uphold his oath of office”.
Ndlozi said the party also wants a debate on “the threat to our constitution and democracy of having Mr Zuma continue as President of the Republic of South Africa”.
“It is clear that the Speaker and the entire ANC Caucus are hell-bent on rendering our Constitution useless and ushering of lawlessness in our country‚ which is a serious threat to our democracy‚” said Ndlozi.