All eyes on Zuma, Malema and Mbete for Sona

Julius Malema runs the risk of alienating some EFF supporters if he goes ahead with his planned disruption of the Sona. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Julius Malema runs the risk of alienating some EFF supporters if he goes ahead with his planned disruption of the Sona. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

All eyes will be on Parliament today when President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address (Sona). But unlike previous Sonas, the spotlight will not be on Zuma alone – National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete and Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema are equal key players. 

Baleka Mbete
Parliament has beefed up its security in anticipation of a possible physical fight with EFF MPs during Zuma’s address. The Sunday Times reported last week that Parliament took the unprecedented step of sending its security staff on self-defence classes. All of Parliament’s security staff, numbering 80, were picked up from their homes and called to an otherwise deserted parliamentary precinct for training, according to the newspaper.

Julius Malema
This week, a group of disgruntled EFF members, led by Lufuno Gogoro, said they were mobilising other EFF members who did not agree with Malema to ensure that Zuma’s address went ahead smoothly.

Malema’s party says it will follow Parliament’s rules to force Zuma to answer the question about when he was going to “pay back” a portion of the money spent on the R246-million security upgrade to his private Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal, as recommended by public protector Thuli Madonsela.

Malema runs the risk of alienating some EFF supporters if he goes ahead with his planned disruption of Sona.

He has been accused of using the EFF to drive his personal vendetta against Zuma, who kicked him out of the ANC.

The party has labelled dissidents within it as ANC moles who were out to destroy the EFF the same way Cope was destroyed.

Jacob Zuma 
The last time Zuma appeared in the National Assembly was in August last year, when the EFF disrupted proceedings.

The president has ignored advice from ANC veterans to lead by example, respect the office of the public protector and pay back a portion of the money as Madonsela recommended.
The Nkandla issue has damaged the ANC and the South African government.

Several business people have offered to assist Zuma in paying back the money.

ML

ML

Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

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