The Week Ahead: All eyes on President Zuma and the EFF

On Thursday, all eyes will be fixated on President Zuma as he delivers the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The speech is due to be delivered at 19:00 before a combined gathering of Parliament, cabinet, the judiciary, heads of chapter 9 institutions, business leaders, trade unions, foreign guests and the public.

The occasion is steeped in tradition and includes a red carpet procession, military parade, a 21-gun salute and an Air Force flypast.

The speech will be delivered against the background of an energy crisis, persistent unemployment and inequality, a weakened economy, funding crisis in higher education and problems weighing down state owned companies. The President is expected to talk to these challenges, report back on the successes and set out his vision and priorities for the future and forthcoming year.

The biggest talking point however has been the threats by the EFF to disrupt the President’s speech (read here and here), and fears that this could lead to the chaos that ensued during last year’s event. The EFF has promised to take action if President Zuma doesn't begin by explaining his reason for firing the former Finance Minister. Parliament has tried to discourage this and highlighted that new rules are in place to prevent disruptions and to evict unruly parliamentarians from the joint-sitting.

Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League has come out strongly against the EFF threats, promising to “physically remove wood workers from parliament". There could be another showdown on the streets, with the Fees Must Fall movement, the DA and the Seskhona Peoples Rights Movement holding separate marches on the day.

Security will be tight. The public and financial markets will be watching.

Watch the 2015 SONA here.

Despite the scant two-day schedule, there are several interesting topics lurking in the committee corridor this week. Here is a breakdown:

On Tuesday, there are meetings on the National Credit Amendment Act Regulations, the Fishing Rights Allocation Process, professionalising of the SAPS and the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill [B33-2015].

On Wednesday, there are three main points of interest. First, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will update lawmakers on the newly established Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission and the Black Industrialist incentive. Second, access and funding to higher education will be in the spotlight when MPs discuss registration and enrolment in Universities and TVET Colleges in 2016 and the NSFAS allocation of funds to Universities and TVET Colleges in 2016. Third, the financial industry will be paying close attention to the public hearings on the Financial Sector Regulation “Twin Peaks” Bill [B34-2015].

You can find the full list of meetings here.

*This report was updated. The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education cancelled its planned meeting on the 2015 Matric Results 2015 and the Status Report on Schools Reopening for 2016.


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