POLITICS
06/02/2018 16:10 SAST | Updated 06/02/2018 17:07 SAST

Smiles All Around (Even From the ANC) On Sona Postponement

The ANC, the EFF and the DA have all welcomed national assembly speaker Baleka Mbete's decision to postpone the state of the nation address.

Opposition party leaders Mmusi Maimane (DA party), Julius Malema (EFF party) and Mangosuthu Buthelezi (IFP party)  confer shortly before voting during the motion of no confidence against South African president Jacob Zuma in parliament last year.
POOL New / Reuters
Opposition party leaders Mmusi Maimane (DA party), Julius Malema (EFF party) and Mangosuthu Buthelezi (IFP party) confer shortly before voting during the motion of no confidence against South African president Jacob Zuma in parliament last year.

The ANC, along with opposition parties, has welcomed national assembly speaker Baleka Mbete's announcement that the state of the nation address (Sona) will be postponed.

Mbete made the announcement on the steps of Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday.

"We decided to approach [President Jacob Zuma] to postpone the state of the nation address... We need to create room for establishing a much more conducive atmosphere in Parliament," she said.

In a statement from ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu's office, the governing party said it welcomed the postponement of the Sona.

"The ANC caucus will await the outcomes of the national executive committee [meeting] scheduled for tomorrow to give guidance to caucus on the way forward," it said.

The announcement comes a day before the ANC's NEC are expected to meet to discuss Zuma's future. It is widely expected that the NEC will formally ask the state president to resign, or will begin the process to have him recalled at the meeting.

READ: The ANC Doesn't Seem To Know Who Will Deliver The Sona Yet

In a statement, Zuma's office said he had also written to Mbete and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, requesting the postponement of the Sona.

"The president has requested the postponement due to certain developments which make it not conducive to successfully hold the sitting and deliver the Sona," the statement said.

Economic Freedom Fighters [EFF] spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told HuffPost the announcement was a victory toward the removal of Zuma as president.

"We reiterate that the motion of no confidence must take place before the Sona," he said.

"We know that Zuma will not resign, even if the ANC's NEC recalls him. He must be forced to step down."

Democratic Alliance [DA] leader Mmusi Maimane in a statement said the party welcomed Mbete's decision "to accede to [the DA's] request to postpone the Sona".

READ: How The Case For JZ's Removal Was Crafted

"South Africa only works when Parliament works," he said, "and the Sona is an integral part of the country's legislative agenda. It is therefore imperative that we work towards circumstances that allow the Sona to proceed. However, this can only happen once Zuma is removed as president of South Africa."

Maimane said the DA would write to Mbete to ensure that the party's impeachment motion, tabled last year, is urgently placed back on the order paper, and the rules governing the impeachment process are finalised this week.