Fikile Mbalula, a member of the ANC national executive committee has issued a note of warning to individuals and parties that intend to disrupt President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Speech on Thursday, February 9.
Mbalula issued the warning in a short press briefing on Tuesday on plans for the SONA event, saying all those planning to disrupt the party’s People’s Assembly during the State of the Nation Address they will be dealt with accordingly.
This warning by the ANC chief organizer came after the Presidency announced a deployment of over 400 defence force who would join the police to safeguard the SONA event arena.
Although the presidency clearly stated that the deployment was necessary to “maintain law and order” in the country before and after the event, the decision has generated lots of issues with opposition parties like the DA and the EFF describing it as an act of staging a war on citizens.
Meanwhile, Fikile Mbalula said the party has been granted the permission to have 30 000 people gather at the Grand Parade, close to the parliamentary precinct, in the city center from 3 pm as ANC leaders as well as their alliance partners who were not MPs would be in attendance to address the crowds.
He added that ANC MPs alongside the president would join the event after Zuma had finished his address. This, according to him, was to interact with the masses so they won’t just be spectators.
Mbalulu made it clear that the president would not be making a second address as there would be no need to “bore” the masses with a similar speech, saying his appearance would be a “meet and greet” only.
“It is our own endeavor not to become onlookers and entertain what opposition parties and everybody else does as though we don’t have a programme of action,” he said.
“Next year we will be here again. We have allowed all sorts of people to come and gather in Parliament‚ protest and do all what they do and all we did, because we are a ruling party‚ was to put on our nice suits and lock ourselves inside and leave our people outside, but not this time,” he warned, adding that the ANC has decided that Parliament and all institutions of the state are not going to be isolated, they must be accompanied by a rigorous‚ visible process that takes the people along in all what we do.
“If we open the social distance and we are not in touch with them‚ they will be fed lies and the untruths about what this government does. We can’t blame it on anyone except ourselves if we are misinterpreted in what we do.”
Speaking further on why the special gathering was organised, Fikile Mbalula said the gathering was not a show of force following the party’s dismal performance at last year’s municipal elections, it is rather a way of ensuring they did not lose touch with the people.
He reiterated that the grand parade event was open to everyone but added that those with ulterior motives would be harshly dealt with.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula also explained issues around the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to parliament for President Jacob Zuma’s Sona on Thursday night. She said the deployment was granted following request by the minister of police, not the president’s
In an interview with SABC the Defence Minister confirmed that her ministry has signed a request for the president to sign a presidential minute, which will then go to parliament as an announcement but stated that if, and when, the minister of police makes that request, he only does it informed by the security assessment that has been conducted by the police and state security.
“So I’m just saying that there is nothing strange, new or untoward about the processes that have been followed. But I want to assure South Africans that here there is no abuse of state power. In any request made that we have to deploy, we do so only in support of police. The defence force will be on standby in the event that a calamity will occur.”
Mapisa-Nqakula urged South Africans to consider that the defence force has the navy, the air force, and health services, not just the army. What “deployment” simply means is that there is a base in Cape Town, where soldiers will be waiting in the event of a calamity, she says.