490 Members of Parliament, 263 guests to attend SONA 2023

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The 2023 State of the Nation Address will be fully physical and all attendees, including Members of Parliament and invited guests, will be present in the chamber and the public gallery at Cape Town’s City Hall, says Parliament’s Presiding Officers.

“We can certainly state that it is all systems go for the 2023 State of the Nation Address,” said the Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, briefing the media in Cape Town earlier today.

She said approximately 490 Members of Parliament, 10 including representatives of Salga, will be accommodated on the floor of the chamber while 263 guests, constituted of representatives of various sectors of society, will be accommodated in the public gallery of the hall.

President Ramaphosa has in terms of the Constitution called a Joint Sitting of the two Houses of Parliament for Thursday, 09 February 2023, at 19:00, to deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Following a devastating fire at Parliament in January 2021, the City Hall has been handed over by the city as a precinct of Parliament.

“We can confirm that similar to last year, this year’s proceedings of SONA 2023 will follow the full ceremony format,” she said.

Activities undertaken and observed during a full ceremony include the Flame Guard, the 21-gun salute, an aircraft flypast, the lining of the route, the Ceremonial Guard, the Salute of the Step Guard, the singing of the National Anthem, the full Military Band and the ceremonial processions of the Provincial Speakers, Premiers, the Judiciary, the Deputy President and the President.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the President will take a salute at the platform prepared in front of the statue of uTata Madiba, which is on the balcony of the City Hall.

Here he will also observe the singing of the National anthem by the South African National Defence Force military band, synchronised with the 21-gun salute and flypast.

“The role of the imbongi in the SONA programme has been an important feature of this key state event since 1994 and remains crucial to the celebration of our cultural diversity and social cohesion,” said the Speaker.

Imbongi is selected in conjunction with the provincial legislatures and the language in which the praise song is rendered is determined on a rotational basis to ensure all languages are afforded equal primacy. 

She announced that for this SONA, a isiZulu praise singer, Msawenkosi Duma, from KwaZulu-Natal will usher the President into the Chamber.

The following dignitaries have confirmed attendance of the SONA:

-        Former President Thabo Mbeki

-        Former Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete

-        Chief Justice Zondo, Deputy Chief Justice Maya and the 15 Judges

-        Pan African Parliament President, Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira

-        Speaker of Azerbaijan, Sahiba Gafarova, in her capacity as the Chairperson of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Forum

-        Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, The Rt Hon Hara

-        Mayor of Cape Town Geordin Hill-Lewis

“One of the defining features of our normalisation of operations following the COVID-19 pandemic is the 263 guests expected this year, inclusive of special dignitaries,”  said the Speaker.

The confirmed guests include 10 netball captains of the different countries gathered here in Cape Town for the World Cup. They are representing Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

The Chairperson of the Netball World Cup Board, the President of the Netball South Africa, the Head Coach of Netball South Africa and the team’s Captain will be special guests.

The President and the Chairman of Cricket South Africa will be at SONA 2023.

“An invitation to the Head Coach and Captain of Banyana-Banyana have also been extended as an opportunity to honour the current Confederation of African Football women’s champions.

“However due to their obligations at the FIFA Women’s World Cup they are unable to be with us. Parliament wishes them well in this competition.”

Public participation is an essential part of the business of Parliament, said Mapisa-Nqakula, and South Africans who will not be physically present as part of the event may follow the proceedings live on a wide range of media platforms.

Over 650 members of the media have been accredited to cover the event. – SAnews.gov.za