Parliament sources have told the Mail & Guardian that Zuma wrote to Parliament on Friday with this request citing “unforeseen circumstances”.
Parliament spokesperson, Luzuko Jacobs confirmed that Parliament has received the request to move the Sona date, but said he did not know the reasons for the proposed changes. “I wouldn’t know. Remember [that] Parliament hosts the president at his request,” he said before referring the question to Zuma’s office.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the president changed the date to enable him to do both the Sona and the AU Heads of State Summit in Equatorial Guinea. “The new date allows Sona and debate to take place during the same week. This allows for our attendance at the AU Summit. It is simply a scheduling issue,” said Maharaj.
Parliament had announced earlier this week, that the state of the nation address would be held on the evening of Thursday, June 19. This will be Zuma’s first address to Parliament since his re-election on May 7. The address is expected to set the tone for the new administration’s plans for the country over the next five years.
The Sona is the biggest event on parliament’s programme. It is attended by representatives of all the spheres of governments, leaders of the judiciary, business, former presidents and international guests.
The Presidency announced on Saturday morning that Zuma had been admitted to hospital for tests. It said doctors were satisfied with his condition. This came a day after the ruling ANC advised Zuma to rest “following a demanding elections and transition programme to the new administration”.