Parliament can't guarantee peaceful Sona

Parliament is ready for the State of Nation Address but cannot guarantee it will be peaceful. Photo: Rodger Bosch

CAPE TOWN – Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, on Thursday said he expected a successful State of the Nation Address (Sona) in a week’s time, but he could not guarantee that there would be no disruptions.

“We are all systems go and we feel comfortable. Plans for Sona have gone very well and everybody has made sure to host a good event for the president who is presenting, and the nation who are looking forward to hearing the president’s inputs,” Mgidlana said at a media briefing on Parliament’s state of readiness for the official opening of Parliament for 2017.

However, Mgidlana also said he hadn’t heard anything about possible disruptions of the event, including a rumoured disturbance by the National Education Health and Allied Workers (Nehawu).

“We know of no such plans regarding a possible disruption of Sona. Then again, I am not a member of Nehawu, but we hope for the best,” he said.

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Mgidlana explained that the level of security would be the same as previous years, with no additional measures being taken, as this years budget is R4 million, R500,000 less than last year.

PICTURED: February 12, 2015 - An image as tweeted out by the Democratic Alliance shows the SAPS allegedly getting aggressive with DA spectators outside Parliament ahead of #SONA2015. CREDIT: via Twitter.com / Democratic Alliance ‏@DA_News

“Saps (South African Police Service) and State Security have their own responsibilities for the day and Sona is not about security, its about the president and members of the public interacting with the speech being made,” said Mgidlana.

READ: No extra security for Sona: Mbete

In terms of logistics, Mgidlana said they had received accreditation applications from “an unprecedented amount of media locally and internationally”. In previous year, 47 media houses covered the Sona. This figure had increased to 70, he said.

“We are expecting to host a successful event for the president and one that will make South Africa proud. We have made the necessary preparations and looked at a number of possibilities that could happen but we just don’t know. There may be glitches and we have looked at previous challenges but we hope for a successful event,” added Mgidlana.

African News Agency

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