Heat turned up on Zuma as Mbete announces SONA postponement

JOHANNESBURG — It’s probably the best news of the year so far and the clearest indication yet that pressure is finally building on President Jacob Zuma to vacate office. The announcement by the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be postponed is a clear sign that moves are afoot to ensure that Zuma will never deliver SONA again. There’s a key ANC NEC vote on Wednesday that could see him being instructed to step down. SONA has become a verbose, expensive waste of time in South Africa in recent years. Perhaps with a new leader at the helm, we can start a culture of making SONA more low-key and focused more on what is said, rather than what people are wearing (or even having brawls over)… – Gareth van Zyl

By Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s parliament agreed to delay President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation speech scheduled for Thursday with the ruling party to debate whether to push him to step down.

President Jacob Zuma looks on during the 54th national conference of the ANC in Johannesburg on December 17, 2017. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

The annual speech will probably happen in the next week, National Council of Provinces Chairwoman Thandi Modise told reporters in Cape Town. The postponement was due to concerns about protests within the chamber after opposition parties warned against allowing Zuma to address lawmakers.

The African National Congress’s top decision-making committee will meet Wednesday to discuss a proposal to remove Zuma as head of state, six weeks after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as leader of the party. Zuma, 75, took power in May 2009 and has clung to office through a series of scandals and numerous attempts by the opposition to force him to step down.