At least seven streets around Cape Town’s 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 an increased number of security officials are expected to be deployed to the city centre;
Parliamentary officials who are not performing any specific duties on the day have been instructed to work from home;
No tours or tour groups will be allowed in parliament for the whole week;
From Wednesday, entrance into parliament or any of its buildings will be restricted to those with accreditation for the event;
A special entrance for accredited media will be created and journalists will be restricted to the “media square” and designated areas.
Mgidlana yesterday said the event would take the “same format” as in previous years.
He denied that there would be “extensive security measures” .
“It has not really changed in terms of format from what we have done in the past in terms of security. The idea of securitisation of parliament is false and doesn’t have a foundation.”
He added, however, that the SANDF, SAPS and State Security Agency had made 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.
He assured journalists that no cellphone signals would be blocked and footage of proceedings would not be cut.
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 spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party also wanted 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 lawlessness in our country, which is a serious threat to our democracy,” said Ndlozi.