All eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa this evening as he takes to the podium to outline government’s programme of action through his 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Cape Town City Hall.
The Cape Town City Hall was declared a Parliamentary precinct from 1 to 23 February 2023, and all rules that apply to a Parliamentary precinct became effective.
In addition to the State of the Nation Address, the Hall will also host the two-day debate on the President’s address by the joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament, the reply to the debate by the President and the Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance on February 22.
SONA is an annual message delivered by the President of South Africa to a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament - the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The day brings together the three arms of the State: the executive, the judiciary and the legislature, which will play out their constitutional roles in full view of the nation.
With South Africa continuing to experience various stages of load shedding, South Africans will be waiting with bated breath to hear how the sixth administration plans to address the power crisis.
When he addresses the nation at 7pm, President Ramaphosa will address the current state of the political, social and economic landscape in South Africa, as well as government's commitments and objectives for 2023.
SONA traditions and ceremony
Preparations are well underway for the most anticipated event in the political and parliamentary calendar - the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.
Similar to last year, this year’s proceedings of SONA will follow the full ceremony format, which will also see ordinary citizens participate.
The 2023 SONA will be fully physical and all attendees, including Members of Parliament and invited guests, will be present in the Chamber and the public gallery.
Approximately 490 Members of Parliament, including 10 representatives of the South African Local Government Association (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.
Proceedings in the Parliamentary precinct start at around 16.30. This will see members of the judiciary, Speakers of Provincial Legislatures, Premiers and diplomats arrive for the event.
Activities undertaken and observed during the 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.
Upon his arrival at the City Hall, President Ramaphosa 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 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 21-gun salute has become the international norm for the highest honour a nation renders and it is fired in honour of the Head of State, the national flag, the Head of State of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family and a former Head of State.
The President will then be ushered into the Chamber by an isiZulu praise singer, Msawenkosi Duma, from KwaZulu-Natal.
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 the country's cultural diversity and social cohesion.
Dignitaries who have confirmed attendance of the SONA include former President Thabo Mbeki; former Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete; Chief Justice Raymond Zondo; Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya and the 15 Judges of the Constitutional Court, and the Pan African Parliament President, Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira, among others.
Where to watch
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, including Parliament’s own multimedia and television platforms, as well as mainstream media.
The Parliamentary Broadcast and Audio Visual Unit will provide a broadcast feed to all television stations that will be broadcasting from the precinct.
The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) will provide an audio feed for all radio stations.
The address will also be streamed live on the Parliamentary website, Parliamentary television on DSTV channel 408, and Parliament's YouTube channel.
Over 650 members of the media have been accredited to cover the event. – SAnews.gov.za