Presidency hopes for decorum in Parly ahead of SONA

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Presidency says it hopes that the decorum of Parliament will be upheld on Thursday, following a threat by an opposition party to disrupt the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said this shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa took some time out on Tuesday afternoon to do a walkabout of the Parliamentary precinct to assess the set up at the National Assembly chamber and to be taken through the paces ahead of his speech on Thursday. 

“It is our hope that the State of the Nation Address will be afforded the decorum and the dignity that it deserves. Parliament does have its own rules in terms of how it handles that matter, which as the Presidency we wouldn’t be in a position to comment on but it is really an unfortunate situation which could be political opportunism at its best to try to use this SONA to deal with issues that are being dealt with in another forum,” Diko said. 

This comes after the EFF threatened to disrupt SONA if the President does not cede to their demand that he address the nation on the Bosasa matter before his speech on Thursday. 

Briefing the media last week, presiding officers of Parliament said no extraordinary security arrangements would be put in place to deal with the threat, and that the existing rules and procedures of the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces would be applied. 

Diko said the threats to disrupt the proceedings were unfortunate, given that the President had fully cooperated and met with the Public Protector over the matter. 

“I think those threats of a disruption are very unfortunate and the issues that the EFF and DA raise [the payment that was made of R500 000 to the President’s campaign]… have been taken to the Public Protector. 

“The President has met with the Public Protector and has given a full statement, which is also in the public domain. Now we must respect the processes that were set up and those particular political parties have taken the matter to the Public Protector.

“I think it would be best if [the Public Protector] is allowed to complete her work unhindered. So any threats really to disrupting SONA are undermining the institutions that we have set up to deal with challenges such as these,” Diko said. 

Earlier in the day, the President, accompanied by officials from his office, walked out of his Cape Town office, Tuynhuys, and interacted with the media.  He therafter met with Parliament’s presiding officers – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise, among others. 

He told journalists that he was going to meet with the presiding officers in order to be taken on a “drill” of where he will stand when he delivers his speech in the National Assembly on  Thursday.  –