NCOP chairperson Mrs Thandi Modise and Speaker Baleka Mbete address a media briefing to announce the postponement of SONA 2018. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Parliament - While a new date for the State of the Nation Address has not been set, National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise said they were looking to schedule it before the budget is tabled on February 21.

"We do have a proposal not to postpone by more than a week. If we can, a week will be sufficient," said Modise.

Parliament has said that the date for the Budget would not move because of the effect it could have on the markets.

In an unprecedented move, Speaker Baleka Mbete on Tuesday announced that SONA 2018 would be postponed on request from opposition parties who have threatened to disrupt the proceedings. 

Disruptions have already marked the official opening of Parliament for the past few years with opposition MPs having been forcefully removed after questioning President Jacob Zuma's legitimacy as president.

Mbete said they did not want a repeat of this.

"Developments this year, particularly the calls for the disruption or for the joint sitting to be postponed have therefore caused us great concern," said Mbete on the steps of the National Assembly after meeting the whips of all political parties represented in the South African Parliament to inform them of her decision.

"We have, regrettably, come to the conclusion that there is little likelihood of an uneventful Joint Sitting of Parliament this coming Thursday. With this in mind, we have decided to approach the president of the republic to propose that we postpone the joint sitting in order create room for a establishing a more conducive political atmosphere in Parliament.

“This postponement has taken into account the scheduled tabling of the national budget in the next two weeks and we are going all out to make sure that the budget is not disturbed or postponed at all, Mbete said.

She said when they informed Zuma of their decision, the president had told them that he was in the process of writing to them proposing the very same thing.

The Speaker conceded that developments within the ruling party, which entail a national executive committee meeting on Wednesday to decide Zuma's fate as president, also factored into the decision.

"We are not just looking at logistical arrangements. We are looking to stakeholders, political stakeholders, members of society from different sectors, concerns being raised in the political environment and all of this has to come into effect in influencing our understanding of the seriousness of the situation...," said Mbete.



National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced that the South Africa's annual state-of-the-nation address was being postponed. VIDEO: Chantall Presence / ANA



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