Johannesburg - Leaders of opposition parties in South Africa on Friday said they remained unshaken from their demand that President Jacob Zuma be barred from delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on February 8.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced on Friday that she had rejected a request by the EFF for a motion of no confidence vote in Zuma to be held before the SONA. Instead, it had scheduled the motion for debate for February 22.
A request to postpone the SONA by the country's biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, was also rejected.
"We are adamant that President Zuma should not deliver the next State of the nation Address to Parliament," said United Democrat Movement leader Bantu Holomisa during a press conference in Johannesburg following Mbete's announcement. He was joined by leaders of, among other, South Africa's ththird-largestolitical party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the African Christian Democratic Party, and the Congress of the People.
"In this meeting most leaders today agreed that a formal letter addressed to the presiding officers of Parliament expressing our concerns in allowing the proposed State of the Nation Address to go ahead..."
"It's useless to have the no-confidence motion after the State of the Nation Address," EFF's deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, told reporters.
"Why listen to Jacob Zuma on the 8th when he is going on the 22nd?"
The DA said that "South Africans simply cannot be subjected to (an address) delivered by a discredited president."
Opposition parties said a refusal to meet their demands would not lead to a boycott of the SONA.
"So far we did not resolve that we are not going to attend...we are still members of the House and we want to make sure that we meet the Speaker next week on Tuesday on the 6th...," said Holomisa.
"We will make sure that we will talk to her [Mbete] and assure her that we want South Africa's image to be restored, to make sure things go smoothly, but she also needs to play the ball. She must talk to our request to have Zuma not participate in State of the Nation Address."
The EFF said the sooner Zuma was ousted the better, for not just opposition parties, but for the country as a whole.
"At his [Zuma's] behest all institutions are actually day in and day out being eliminated and removed, actually weakened. By the time we take over in 2019, there will be nothing to govern," said EFF MP Godrich Gardee.
Zuma has survived numerous no-confidence votes in recent years, but could be more fragile as some former loyalists are pushing for Cyril Ramaphosa, the new head of the ruling ANC party, to replace him as president.
Senior ANC officials are due to meet with Zuma on Sunday to discuss the transfer of power.
No comment could be obtained from ANC officials.
Some Zuma loyalists have said that the president should complete his second and final term in office, which would end when elections are held next year.
Zuma's presidency has been dominated by corruption scandals. He faces several court cases, including over 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power in 2009.
His hold on the ANC was shaken when his chosen successor - his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - lost out to Ramaphosa in the closely-fought race to be party leader.
Zuma could leave office either by resigning, through losing a motion of no-confidence in parliament or impeachment proceedings.
He could also be recalled by the ANC, forcing him to step down.
African News Agency/ANA and AFP