All systems go for SONA

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cape Town – Parliament is ready to host President Jacob Zuma where he will deliver his much-anticipated State of the Nation Address (SONA) to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

The President’s speech, which will look back on government’s achievements of the past year and outline the plan for the year ahead, will be broadcast live to the nation at 7pm on a number of media platforms, including television, radio and live streaming.

As expected of an occasion of this magnitude, which is also attended by high profile guests, security measures around the Parliamentary precinct are stringent. There is police presence at all points of entry in Parliament. The Tuynhuys entrance (which is used by the VIP motorcade), the visitors’ entrance on Plein Street, 90 Plein Street and the Parliament Street entrance were cordoned off and closely guarded this afternoon.

Only accredited organisations and individuals can gain entry to the precinct today.

Media logistics finalised

All banners and flags with SONA branding have already been erected in and around Parliament.

The focus of last minute preparations has shifted to logistics in relation to the media. Over 800 journalists are accredited for the event.

Parliamentary officials briefed media just before 2pm to inform them about the dos and don’ts around the red carpet when the traditional red carpet photo opportunities and media interviews commence before the President’s speech.

The red carpet is expected to be closed at 17:45pm where no one will be allowed on it except for MPs, VIPs and other guests.

Photographers and videographers were informed of areas which are accessible to them when the Pre-SONA activities begin.

Meanwhile, government has urged all South Africans to respect this solemn occasion where the President and Head of State will address the nation.

Members of Parliament have freedom of speech in line with the rules of the Houses when they participate in committees and debates.

Members of Parliament, government said, should lead by example and respect the rules and procedures of Parliament so that its integrity can be protected. South Africans are also encouraged to protect the integrity of Parliament, as it is one of the most important pillars of democracy.

There will be an opportunity for parties to debate the President’s speech on 16 and 17 February 2016. –