Election of new president, SONA both planned for Friday

Cape Town - The National Assembly programming committee has agreed to a preliminary schedule over the next seven days that will include a motion of no confidence, a swearing in of a new president, and the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The chief whips of the various parties met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Parliament's programme, following the ANC's decision to support and amend an EFF-sponsored motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete confirmed on Wednesday that the motion's date has been moved up to Thursday at 14:00.

The voting on this motion would be by open ballot.

The parties of the fifth Parliament have now agreed on the rest of its programme, pending the availability of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to oversee a prospective election of a new president.

Also, the joint programming committee, which includes the National Council of Provinces, will ratify the decision on Thursday, so that SONA, a joint sitting, can go ahead on Friday.

The preliminary schedule is thus:

- Thursday, 14:00 - Motion of no confidence;
- Friday morning - Swearing in of a new president;
- Friday evening - State of the Nation Address;
- Monday - SONA debate by parties;
- Tuesday - SONA reply by the new president;
- Wednesday - Budget speech.

Mbete told journalists on Wednesday that they would communicate with the Office of the Chief Justice once they had a mandate, following a successful motion of no confidence.

She also said, without giving details, that SONA's preparations would largely be the same as before, with only minor changes.

This is all on the assumption that Zuma does not resign. The ANC has given him until the end of Wednesday to resign.

If Zuma resigns, the motion of no confidence falls away, and the programme will continue as planned.  

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In an interview with the SABC, Zuma on Wednesday said the ANC had not provided him with reasons why he should resign as the president of the country.

"I need to be furnished on what I have done. Unfortunately, no one has been able to provide what is it that I have done. I said to them, if I have done something wrong, there are processes in the ANC," he said in an exclusive interview with the SABC at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

He will release a statement later on Wednesday evening. The ANC said it had noted Zuma's remarks, and was waiting for his statement.