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Zuma to face a difficult SONA

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All eyes and ears will be on President Jacob Zuma who is set to deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) later on Thursday. Most political pundits believe this will be Zuma’s toughest SONA yet, amid increased political pressure to step down as president following a number of bad moves that has severely affected the economy. Added to this is the ongoing Nkandla saga and the Constitutional Court battle to determine the power of the Public Protector, which could see Zuma’s future in serious trouble.

Speaking to VOC on Thursday, political analyst Professor Andre Duvenage explained that the SONA will be analysed on two levels; firstly, what will be happening outside parliament with a number of protest marches; and the second aspect of will be focused on inside parliament and the possible instability by opposition parties.

“The EFF made it clear that they are going to ask critical questions to the president, and [that] they won’t be stopped by the so-called white shirts,” Duvenage asserted.

It is expected that much pressure will be placed on President Zuma to address the Nkandla issue, an issue currently sparking much debate within South Africa, with citizens echoing sentiments of frustration and anger.

“I think the economy will be at the core [of discussions], and I think that reference will be made to the Nkandla issue,” Duvenage stated.

The Nkandla case changed its course when in recent Constitutional Court proceedings’ Zuma’s legal counsel accepted the findings of the Court and the Public Protector.
Surprisingly, Zuma’s legal counsel stated that the President’s case is not reliant on the report of the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko – the same reports that exonerated the President.

Zuma conceded on everything that the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the EFF have called for, with the exception of the declaratory order made by Constitutional Court that maintains that the President contravened the Constitution and his oath to office.

“This is reflecting very negatively on the president and on the supporters of the president,” Duvenage said.

He believed that Zuma will not stand for a third term.

The African National Congress (ANC), Duvenage explained, will focus on their strategic priorities, things like; poverty alleviation, job creation, social security, health, and education.  Duvenage further noted that the ANC is said to focus on a counter strategy against the EFF.

It is also expected that the SONA will touch on international relations and the African Union.

“I believe [that] this is going to be his [President Zuma’s] most difficult State of the Nation Address,” asserted Duvenage.

“The DA is a party that is following structure and process. I do not think that they will follow the type of strategy [that] we have seen from the EFF, but they will ask critical questions if there are problems with the process and procedure. The same is applicable to the Inkatha Freedom party (IFP), the Freedom Front Plus and the

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP),” Duvenage explained further.

With regard to electioneering, Duvenage explained that he expects that the speech will make mention of it.

“You must take into consideration that this elections is starting in my hometown of Potchefstroom, [where we] had severe electoral misconduct during the by-elections of 2012/2013,” Duvenage stated.

Since the president is expected to set the stage for the local elections, there is a considerable amount of pressure on the ANC to perform.

Duvenage further explained that he believes that the president will not repeat the theme of “a good story to tell.” It is however expected that he will mention the achievements of the ANC Government.

“Mr Zuma must try to position his party, he hasn’t got a lot of good to tell,” Duvenage urged.

Due to the sensitivity of the Gupta issue and their relationship with government, Duvenage expects that the president will not elaborate on the issue.

“Maybe he can put it [the Gupta issue] in the whole topic of racism. I think that the whole topic of racism and social cohesion is very central to his speech,” Duvenage explained.

The theme of racism and social-cohesion Duvenage believes will be central in the president’s speech; he also believes that the issue of racism and social-cohesion will be a core strategy to the local election, a strategy that Duvenage deems “unfortunate”.

In conclusion, Duvenage believes that the strategic priorities of the ANC will be reflected upon. We can also expect from the SONA, mention of the state of the economy, specifically; job creation, and budget restraints.

“He is going to ask people to stand together to achieve more,” Duvenage explained. VOC (Thakira Desai)

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