All roads lead to Parliament

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pretoria - With excitement building amongst South Africans around the 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA), it seems government has ticked all the boxes on its to do list, and is satisfied with the preparations.

President Jacob Zuma is set to deliver his address on Thursday at 7pm but festivities, which include the State’s ceremonies, will kick off after 4pm on the day.

However, pre-SONA events across the country are in full swing. These include media networking sessions, Ministers’ interactions with local communities and dry runs of the big day.

During his address on Thursday, President Zuma will highlight what has been achieved by his administration.  He will also speak on government priorities and programmes for the year ahead.

Preparations include tight security for the dignitaries, the media and members of the public, both inside and outside Parliament. 

The South African Police Service, along with Parliamentary security, will provide safety and security as they have done in the past years, acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Director-General Donald Liphoko said on Wednesday.

President Zuma has also authorised the deployment of 441 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to Parliament to assist police.

Liphoko reminded those who have been granted permission to protest to do so within the confines of the law.

“The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly or demonstrations. It also allows for peaceful picketing and the presentation of petitions.”

Government and Parliament are also hard at work to ensure that people participate in activities.

As such, they have provided even greater public access to the SONA proceedings.

“There are 40 SONA live viewing events across the country to ensure people can hear the speech first hand, while engaging with their friends and neighbours,” Liphoko said.

The address will also be live-streamed for technology savvy South Africans, who can also engage with the speech online via the government and Parliament social media accounts under the hashtag #SONA2017.

South Africans, who prefer to watch the event in the comfort of their homes on television or listening to the radio, can tune in to their favourite station.

SONA 2017 will also be broadcast live on over 80 community radio stations around the country.

The ceremony will also be covered by 730 accredited journalists from various local and international media houses who will inform the nation about the happenings of the day as it unfolds.

“We are confident that this greater access will allow more South Africans to hear directly from the President about their country, about issues that concern them.” - SAnews.gov.za

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