Presiding Officers lay down law ahead of SONA

Parliament’s Presiding Officers say no disruptions of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be tolerated.

This, the Presiding Officers said on Tuesday, includes ensuring that there is no load shedding on the day of the State of the Nation Address, which President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver on Thursday, 9 February, at 7pm, at the Cape Town City Hall.

Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Amos Masondo, said they will ensure that the rules of Parliament are applied to Members of Parliament who disrupt proceedings.

“Every Member of Parliament has a responsibility to conduct themselves in a proper manner that is acceptable. Other conduct in the house will be dealt with accordingly,” Masondo said at a media briefing in Cape Town.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli, said while protests are legitimate when they are within the rules, he warned that any conduct that is not within the law and is aimed at disrupting the proceedings will be dealt with accordingly.

“As Parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to communicate better and more respectfully,” he said.

Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, said a plan is in place to ensure that SONA is not disrupted by load shedding.

“There will be minimisation of load shedding,” George said.

Meanwhile, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS), which comprises various government departments – including the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the State Security Agency (SSA) – has put measures in place to ensure that SONA takes place in a safe and secure environment.

Integrated and joint law enforcement operations are underway, and law enforcement officers on high alert to ensure that SONA takes place in a secure environment, with no incidents of crime before, during and post SONA.

NATJOINTS has also directed all law enforcement agencies to execute their duties according to their constitutional mandate and within the relevant prescripts.

Residents of Cape Town, spectators and those who are operating businesses in the vicinity of the Cape Town City Hall, have been advised about road closures ahead of the delivery of the President’s State of the Nation Address.

“It is important to emphasise that those who are not accredited or authorised to be in attendance should avoid the area around the Cape Town City Hall on Thursday,” NATJOINTS said in a statement.

Source: South African Government News Agency