The Economic Freedom Fighters’ request for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma has been scheduled for February 22, a day after the budget speech.
Parliament’s presiding officers on Thursday said they had rejected the EFF’s request to hold the motion before next week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
This year’s SONA will go ahead as planned next week, irrespective of who is president of the country, they said.
Parliament on Friday provided reasons for why the motion can only happen after SONA and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s first budget speech.
The decision had taken into account the National Assembly’s busy programme, including SONA, the SONA debate, the president’s reply and the tabling of the national budget on February 21.
“Ms Mbete had also consulted relevant stakeholders,” spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
The EFF on Thursday said they were preparing to “raise their issues” with Zuma at SONA next Thursday, February 8, as a result – vowing it could not be business as usual.
DA to again push for SONA postponement
The Democratic Alliance meanwhile will again ask Mbete to postpone SONA, despite Parliament’s rejection of the party’s initial request this week.
This after the DA requested a postponement until after President Jacob Zuma inevitably leaves office.
“The DA maintains that South Africans simply cannot be subjected to a SONA delivered by a discredited president heading a discredited administration,” DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said.
“Following a formal request from the leader of the opposition, Mmusi Maimane… 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.”
Steenhuisen contended that, while the calling of a SONA is the Constitutional prerogative of the president, it was still up to the presiding officers’ to determine when it happened.
‘Lame duck president’
The DA would therefore write to arrange an urgent joint programming committee meeting to discuss a postponement.
“We simply cannot continue with SONA as if it’s ‘business as usual’ conditions,” he continued.
“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 could not spend millions on SONA when, in effect, neither he nor his administration would be around to implement any of his plans.
Mbete announced on Thursday that the event had been budgeted at R4.3-millon.
In replying to Maimane’s initial request, Mbete said the president had exercised his powers to convene SONA as per the Constitution.
Parliament’s joint programming committee had also ratified the date on November 16, 2017.
“The Speaker, therefore, had no power to accede to the DA’s request to postpone the State of the Nation Address scheduled for delivery to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.
“Joint sittings were also matters of concern to both Houses of Parliament.”