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SONA 2016: Will Zuma rise to the occasion?
9 February 2016

Who will South African President Jacob Zuma speak to when he delivers his annual state of the nation address (SONA) on Thursday?

Will he address the country’s hashtag revolutionaries, clamouring for education, equality and employment prospects? Or will he talk to the desperate farmers who see the effects of protracted drought long before urban South Africans feel the pinch in food prices?

South Africa is angry, restless and divided – fatigued by bleak economic statistics, a failure of leadership and pervasive racism. This is the nation that Zuma should address on Thursday: not a favoured, albeit dwindling, clique of supporters.

The aftershocks of his decision to axe former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene will be felt for a long time still, and what the president says on Thursday will likewise have far-reaching effects both at home and within the international community.

In addition to the usual items of Nkandla and economic matters, Zuma might also re-open the debate on the International Criminal Court (ICC). If it does not seem like an ideal time, Parliament might be a logical place to start if he wanted to gain momentum to withdraw South Africa from the ICC’s Rome Statute. Such a move might also take some of the wind out of his would-be detractors’ red berets.

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For more, talk to our experts:

Impact of SONA 2016 on SA’s foreign relations, SA and the ICC
Anton du Plessis, ISS Executive Director will be attending SONA
aduplessis@issafrica.org | +27 78 781 3619 

Parliamentary rules, general direction of the speech, accountability, transparency
Judith February, Consultant, ISS Governance Crime and Justice Division will be attending SONA
jfebruary@issafrica.org | +27 83 453 9817

Crime, corruption, criminal justice, Nkandla
Gareth Newham, Head, ISS Governance, Crime and Justice Division
gnewham@issafrica.org | +27 82 887 1557

About the Institute for Security Studies

The ISS is an African organisation that aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.
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