The opposition Democratic Alliance has called for next month’s state of the nation address to be postponed to allow parliament to elect a new president of South Africa.

In a statement on Wednesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he had written to the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, requesting that this year’s SONA, scheduled for Thursday 8 February, be postponed until Jacob Zuma has been removed from office, and Parliament is afforded an opportunity to elect a new President.

“It is no secret that there is a battle within the ANC and the national executive  – with each side holding starkly differing policies, ideological positions and plans of action,” Maimane said. “While Cyril Ramaphosa is the ANC President, Jacob Zuma remains President of South Africa, leaving the country not knowing which direction is being pursued.

“As things stand, it would not be in the best interests of South Africa for President Zuma to deliver the State of the Nation Address when there exists great uncertainty as to whether he will remain President, and if so, for how long. While the ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) has requested Jacob Zuma be removed before SONA, the ANC’s Deputy Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte, has gone on record saying Jacob Zuma is ‘going nowhere’.”

According to Maimane, last year’s SONA cost over R11 million and “we cannot afford to waste this amount of public money for Jacob Zuma to deliver the government’s programme of action for the coming year in his SONA, when it is not likely that he will remain the President of the Republic much longer”.

He added that according to the new rules of Parliament adopted last year, the institution is currently open for business, and does not require a SONA for the House and its committees to continue its work.

“Therefore the Speaker must act in the interests of all South Africans, and postpone the State of the Nation Address until the ANC leadership battle has been resolved.”

– African News Agency (ANA)