South African National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has announced that the State of the Nation Address has been postponed. The Address was scheduled to take place on 8 February, but was cancelled due to the current political climate.
Mbete added that as Parliament was preparing to write to President Jacob Zuma to request the postponement of his address, he was already doing the same.
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 earlier today‚ Zuma said only that the request was “due to certain developments” that made delivering the SONA untenable.
The postponement comes after days of debate between South Africa’s major political parties as to the future of President Zuma. Major opposition parties, and many within the President’s party – the ANC – have united in their request for the President to voluntarily resign before the State of the Nation Address, so that it may be delivered by the ANC’s new President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Zuma potentially faces a motion of no confidence from his own party, as well potentially facing hundreds of corruption charges. Decisions about both are to be made in the coming weeks. Zuma has stated that he will only resign if the ANC’s top leadership tells him to. The ANC’s National Executive Committee will convene on 7 February to discuss the President’s fate.
This is the first time that the State of the Nation Address has been postponed. Speaker Mbete has stated that the SONA postponement decision was taken in the best interests of the country, and that a new SONA date will be set as soon as possible.
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