From the news desk

Final preps for SONA underway

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Final preparations for President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address (Sona) are underway, Parliament said on Thursday.

“Parliament’s presiding officers are confident that the institution will do all in its power to again host a successful state-of-the-nation address today [Thursday],” it said in a statement.

Rehearsals had taken place on Wednesday night with participants in the ceremony. Proceedings would begin around 5.35pm. Zuma was expected to deliver his address at 7pm.

While security measures had been increased, the withdrawal of parliamentary workers’ voluntary services from the Sona could cause some headaches for Parliament’s management.

On Tuesday night, talks between Parliament’s management and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) over a 13th cheque deadlocked again, prompting the union to announce it would follow through with its plans not to work overtime on Thursday night.

The affected areas were catering, transport and ushering. Parliament said it would ensure the affected areas were serviced.
Various organisations said they did not expect to hear anything new from Zuma on the night.

Pan Africanist Congress deputy president Sbusiso Xaba said the party expected vague promises to be made by Zuma.

“We expect this state-of-the-nation to be no different to the previous addresses,” he said in a statement.

“In the midst of energy crises, President Zuma is going to continue with the habit of not taking responsibility. He will continue to blame apartheid,” Xaba said.

Sonke Gender Justice said on Thursday the Sona would mark two years of inaction and empty promises from government on gender-based violence.

“The women in South Africa do not share in the ‘2013 very good story that SA has to tell’ when they are not safe at home, at work and generally live in fear of rape and sexual assault,” director for advocacy and accountability Vuyiseka Dubula said.

AfriBusiness CEO Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg said the socio-economic future of the country hung in the balance. He said Zuma needed to privatise the electricity supply industry, entrench property rights to all South African citizens and reconsider black economic empowerment (BEE) in total as it was smothering the economy.

“The economic stability of the country is held hostage by a government ideology that creates a bad economic policy.

“The low economic growth of the country, unemployment and the derelict infrastructure are mere symptoms of this,” he said. SAPA

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