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Will Zuma deliver State of Nation Address next week?

Will Zuma deliver State of Nation Address next week?

South Africa

A meeting between President Jacob Zuma and the top six officials of the ruling party could determine whether Zuma will deliver the State of the Nation address next week.

The state broadcaster said on Thursday, that ‘the meeting is expected to center around Zuma’s future as Head of State’.

The State of the Nation Address which is traditionally delivered by the president of the country is scheduled to take place next week on February 8.

The opposition has called for Zuma to be removed from office before he can deliver that address, with plans in the offing for protests should he still be in office.

State of the Nation Address

The State of the Nation Address is an annual event in which the President of South Africa reports on the status of the nation, normally to the resumption of a joint sitting of Parliament (the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces).

The speech marks the opening of the parliamentary year and is usually attended by important political and governmental figures of South Africa, including former Presidents, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court and other members of the judiciary, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, and Ambassadors and Diplomats to the Republic.

South Africa’s parliament however said Zuma will deliver the speech as planned.

“There are processes going on, every day and every night, and at this point the information we have is that the head of state is President Jacob Zuma,” Baleka Mbete, the speaker of parliament, told reporters.

Zuma’s mess

Scandal-plagued Zuma has faced calls from within the African National Congress (ANC) to step down as president of the country, since deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa succeeded him as leader of the party in December.

Zuma, 75, is currently battling a string of corruption allegations and Ramaphosa has in recent weeks pledged to make tackling graft one of his top priorities.

The National Prosecuting Agency (NPA), the state prosecutor, said on Thursday, it would make a decision on whether to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma this month.

Zuma, who has faced and denied numerous corruption allegations since taking office, submitted documents on Wednesday night to the NPA providing reasons why 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2 billion) arms deal arranged in the late 1990s should not be reinstated.

Zuma’s ties to the Gupta family — whose members include a trio of businessmen accused of using their ties to Zuma to amass wealth and influence government policy — has drawn criticism from former allies as well as opponents. The Guptas and Zuma deny any wrongdoing.

Zuma has seen a reversal of fortune since Ramaphosa succeeded him as ANC leader. Zuma still retains the support of a faction within the ANC, but no longer holds a top post.

SUGGESTED READING: Jacob Zuma: The South African president with ‘nine lives’

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