SONA: Security tightened, presiding officers under pressure

Cape Town – Parliament’s presiding officers will be under pressure to keep the decorum of the National Assembly when President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The President and presiding officers have not had it easy since the beginning of the fifth administration of government, which saw the EFF joining Parliament.

The Red Berets have disrupted SONAs and other addresses by the President in the house, because they say Zuma is an illegitimate president because he failed to uphold the constitution in the Nkandla matter.

EFF MPs have been forcibly ejected from the house by security officials several times.

During one of his appearances in the National Assembly, last year, the President complained that he was subject to continual abused from MPs and he chastised presiding officers of not protecting him.

Security around the Parliamentary precinct was tight on Thursday morning, with barbed wire dragged around the area.

This will be Zuma’s final SONA as ANC leader, as new leaders will be elected in December this year.

SOLDIERS DEPLOYED TO SONA

It comes as presiding officers say they cannot explain the decision to deploy more than double the number of soldiers for SONA since 2013.

In 2013, 168 SANDF members were deployed and in 2015 188 soldiers were deployed.

This year 441 members are expected to be present just outside the Parliamentary precinct.

It’s been speculated the controversial increase in SANDF numbers was part of the measures Parliament has put in place to deal with disruptions from opposition parties.

Listen to Speaker of the National Council of Provinces addressing the media last night on maintaining order in the house, and the deployment of soldiers:

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