The DA will write to the Presiding Officers to implore them to postpone SONA

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The Democratic Alliance will again write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, to request that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) be postponed. The DA maintains that South Africans simply cannot be subjected to a SONA delivered by a discredited president heading a discredited administration.

Following a formal request from the Leader of the Opposition, Mmusi Maimane, on 31 January, the Speaker responded and indicated that she has “no power” to accede to the request and postpone the SONA. This is not only entirely unacceptable, but a clear misinterpretation of what the Rules of Parliament allow.

While the Constitution and the Joint Rules of Parliament indicate that the President may summon the NA and NCOP for extraordinary sittings to conduct special business such as the SONA, it remains within the prerogative of the Presiding Officers to determine when this happens.

The DA will therefore request that the Presiding Officers arrange for the Joint Programming Committee to convene urgently to reschedule SONA and allow the ordinary business of Parliament to continue notwithstanding.

We simply cannot continue with SONA as if it’s “business as usual” conditions. Criminal charges of corruption against Zuma have been revived and it is now widely expected that he will be removed as president of South Africa by either the ANC or through a parliamentary impeachment motion.

These extraordinary circumstances warrant extraordinary action – the ANC cannot hold the country hostage as we wait for their party to recall their lame-duck president. South Africa cannot spend millions on SONA when, in effect, neither he nor his administration will be around to implement any of the policies or plans he announces.

The ANC must clean-house and remove ZUMA as a matter of urgency or we risk SONA becoming an R11 million farce at the expense of tax-payers. The Presiding Officers must therefore put South Africa first and postpone SONA.

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