The opposition parties are gunning for his head over the sluggish economy, the sacking of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, student protests over university fees and high levels of unemployment. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) already promised action that could see parliament degenerate into chaos yet again.
Last year’s Sona degenerated into a shambles when EFF members were thrown out of the National Assembly and DA members walked out in protest amid the jamming of cellphone reception signal. On Thursday DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Zuma should brace himself for a “tough” time in parliament.
“We are fully aware the ANC is running scared,” Steenhuisen said. “Security in parliament has been heightened.” Steenhuisen said the DA would grill Zuma about the high level of unemployment.
“South Africans don’t have jobs despite the fact Zuma promised them 500 000 jobs,” he said. “Zuma cannot expect to walk into parliament as if it is business as usual.” He added that there was a great deal of anger among MPs. “Zuma’s popularity has plummeted. I have no doubt the paranoia is going to extend into parliament.”
The Congress of the People’s spokesperson Dennis Bloem said: “We expect him to tell the nation how he is going to be addressing challenges facing the country. “If he fails to do that he can expect a torrid time in parliament.” Bloem said opposition parties were holding meetings to plan collective action for Sona. The EFF could not be reached for comment.
In an interview with The Citizen in Pretoria on Thursday, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said security measures have been put in place to prevent the disruption of Sona. “We have mechanisms and are ready,” Mbete said. “We have been preparing since last year. We are putting the final touches in place.”