All systems go for SONA

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pretoria - The Parliamentary precinct in Cape Town is a flurry of activity ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) later today.

Zuma, who is putting the final touches to his speech, will deliver his address in the National Assembly to a joint sitting of Parliament.

Unlike previous years, this year's address will take place at 7pm to allow all South Africans, especially the workers, students and school children to watch the proceedings.

The event will also mark former President Nelson Mandela's release from prison 20 years ago and progress made since last year's address.

The SONA is set to be a colourful and traditional affair with Members of Parliament, political heads, ambassadors and high commissioners and invited guests dressing up to the nines.

Among the guests invited to share the occasion include a number of former political prisoners who served time on Robben Island, women who served time as sentenced prisoners in various centres, who will be representing many others who will not be able to join the ceremony due to space constraints.

The former prisoners are also expected to be joined by some of the former members of the Rivonia Trial legal team.

The event will also mark a reunion of former freedom fighters from the ANC, Pan-Africanist Congress and the Black Consciousness Movement.

In his address, Zuma is expected to outline the work that is to be done to effectively change the way government works in order to speed up service delivery.

He is also expected to reflect on the five priorities outlined by his administration -education, health, rural development and land reform, the fight against crime and creating decent work.

President Zuma's passion also lies in changing the way public servants work, it is for this reason that he met with police station commanders, municipal managers and school principals to share his vision for a more caring, responsive and people-centred public service.

The Presidential Hotline was established for this purpose to make civil servants more in tune with the needs of ordinary people and to learn to take citizens seriously.