Parliament gears up for SONA this week

Sunday, February 3, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa will this week deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The February SONA, the last of the fifth administration due to the elections later this year, will take place at 7pm.

As is usual for this important event in Parliament’s calendar, the address will be broadcast live on a number of news channels, radio stations as well as live streamed on the Parliament website. There are also public viewing sites set up by GCIS that will broadcast the SONA in the provinces.

The address affords the President an opportunity to speak to the nation on the general state of South Africa, to reflect on a wide range of political, economic and social matters within the domestic and global contexts.

SONA is a mechanism used by the President to account to the nation on the work of government and to set out government’s program of action.

Earlier this week, Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete said the budget for SONA has been cut by 47%.

“Consistent with our endeavour to continuously scale down on costs in light of prevailing economic conditions, we have kept arrangements to the bare minimum without compromising the significance and decorum of the occasion.

“As South Africans continue to face economic challenges, Parliament is taking very feasible steps to do more with fewer resources progressively. Parliament has cut the budget for the SONA ceremony by 47% in comparison with the 2018 SONA budget,” she said.

Mbete said a couple of events and items that usually form part of SONA have been withdrawn from the 2019 February SONA.

However, there will still be a ceremonial parade exhibiting military traditions, drills and ethos of the army, the navy and the Air Force of the Republic of South Africa will be maintained. This includes a national salute by the Ceremonial Guard of the South African National Defence Force, a military band, a salute flight by the SA Air Force and the 21 gun salute.

Former Heads of State, President Thabo Mbeki and President Kgalema Motlanthe, and former Presiding Officers, former National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala and former National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, have confirmed that they will attend the event.

“We are pleased to state that all arrangements are in place to ensure a successful hosting of this important and last State of the Nation Address for the Fifth Parliament,” she said.

The public are encouraged to engage on the important national event, using #SONA2019. –