I requested Sona postponement‚ says Zuma
President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that he wrote to the Parliament’s presiding officers to request a postponement of the State of the Nation Address.
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon‚ Zuma said the request was “due to certain developments” that made delivering the SONA untenable.
“President Jacob Zuma has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly‚ Baleka Mbete and the chairperson of the Council of Provinces‚ Thandi Modise‚ requesting the postponement of the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces‚ which he had asked them to convene in order to deliver the State of the Nation Address (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 Presiding Officers have acceded to the President’s request‚” the statement said.
Zuma has been under pressure to vacant the country’s highest office since he was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC’s elective conference in December. However‚ he had reportedly refused to do so – leading to calls‚ from inside and outside the party‚ for him to be recalled and replaced.
Earlier in the day‚ Mbete confirmed that Zuma was writing to her and Modise to request the postponement.
Asked during a media Q&A outside Parliament on Tuesday about the contents of that letter‚ Mbete said: “All we know that he told us he was in the process of writing to us‚ and we are awaiting the letter.”
However there are some like the DA's chief whip, John Steenhuisen, who do not believe it was Zuma's decision.
"I think that they are trying to give a dignified exit to the man. I don't think that's the case, I think Mr Zuma's hand is being forced. I think that we look at the outcome of some of the NWC engagements, some of the top six engagements with him, that's not the message that he's been sending out there.
His message is people of South Africa want him and still want him to stay on. We all know that's not the truth, his party knows that's not the truth and parliament has now said 'well that's not the truth. Allowing you to deliver Sona Mr Zuma would reduce the evening to a farce' and I think that's being avoided," he said.
On February 6 2018, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete announced that Sona has been postponed indefinitely. Sunday Times political reporter Qaanitah Hunter explains why this happened and what could happen next.