President Zuma meets special guests ahead of SONA

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma this afternoon took time off the State of the Nation Address (SONA) preparations to meet some of his special guests who will attend SONA and the official opening of Parliament tomorrow.

"We believe the opening of Parliament and the State of the Nation Address is an event for all South Africans because Parliament is an institution of the people and we therefore want people to visit Parliament to feel part of it.

"That's why every year we invite special guests of the President on the strength of the good work that they do in the development and promotion of our country and the sacrifices each has made for South Africa," said President Zuma on Wednesday.

The President enjoyed High Tea with the following:

  • The country's Olympic Gold medallist, Chad Le Clos, who received swimming's highest honour in December after he was crowned the world's best swimmer for 2014 by the International Swimming Federation. Earlier in 2014, Le Clos became the first man to be crowned FINA's Swimming World Cup series winner for the third time, collecting 27 gold medals along the way. Le Clos also became the first ever swimmer to go unbeaten throughout a World Cup series and also the first swimmer to win all the butterfly events. 


  • Ivy Nokwanele Mzamo, winner of the 2014 Agriculture Female Entrepreneur Awards Programme, previously the Female Farmer of the Year, whichwas initiated in 1999. The programme seeks to encourage and increase the participation of women, youth and people with disabilities in the sector. The major thrust of the programme is to underline the fact that women play a significant role in food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation. Mzamo scooped the award for the Top Entrepreneur in the Sector: Export Market, making her the overall winner. The 44-year-old and 58 other beneficiaries established the Luthando Farm in 2003; the farm is located outside Kirkwood in Sunday River Valley, in the Eastern Cape. 

 The beneficiaries were awarded land through the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development scheme. The farm produces seasonal crops and citrus fruit that are exported to the Middle East, Europe, United Kingdom, Russia, Canada and China. Mzamo said she would like to expand the yield of crops. The Luthando Farm has created permanent jobs for 42 people and another 42 for seasonal workers during peak seasons. The enterprise produces a total of about 220 579 cartons of export citrus, and the estimated production for 2014 is 201 878 carton/3967 tons amounting to R11 192 060.00. This year, 2015, will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the awards programme. 


  • Winner of the 2014 Water Conservation Award Mapule Phokompe. The Department of Water and Sanitation encouraged the involvement of women's organisations from the rural areas to participate in coming up with practical ways of conserving water and producing food for self and the surrounding villages. The Mosadi Tshwene project led by Ms Mapule Phokompe, from the water-scarce Disaneng Village, Mahikeng in North West, topped the Water Conservation Category in the 2014 Women in Water Awards competition by practising the best water conservation method in the production of vegetables. The project won R100 000 towards further development of their project and their livelihood.  This support provided by the department to organisations contributes greatly to their job creation, sustainable livelihoods for members and provides mechanisms for increasing opportunities for women's economic empowerment and development of community at large.


  •  Moletsane High School learners. The three learners from Moletsane High School, namely, Ofentse Mahasha, Tiisetso Mashiloane and Hlengiwe Moletsane won a school competition to attend the G20 Leaders' Summit in Brisbane, Australia in November 2014. They were selected by the Australian government through a school essay competition on the importance of the G20 for both South Africa and Australia.


  • Banyana Banyana striker and Sports Star of the Year 2014, Portia Modise.


Other special guests at the High Tea included ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, ANC Treasurer General Dr Zwelini Mkhize, the Chairperson of the National Orders Advisory Committee, Bridgitte Mabandla; Chairperson of Brand SA, Chichi Maponya; King of the Royal Bafokeng, Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi; the President's Special Envoys to Palestine in the Middle East, Dr Aziz Pahad and Dr Zola Skweyiya.

President Zuma explained that: "We invite individuals, young and old, who are representing our country in various sectors in the international stage. We also invite the families of late struggle heroes and heroines to see the good work and contribution of their family members". 

In addition, there is going to be a female praise singer for the first time for SONA, Kgato Welminah Masemola. She was born on 22 February 1940 at the Ga-Marishane village as a daughter of the late Headman of the late Kgoshi Tseke Marishane, the father to the late Kgoshi Hlabirwa M.M. Marishane of Ga-Marishane village in Limpopo.

Presently the Ga-Marishane Chieftainship is under the late Chief's wife - Kgoshigadi Mogoshadi Marishane. In addition to traveling with Kgoshigadi Mogoshadi Marishane, the imbongi is a community leader and sews Traditional Sepedi dresses and bead work. She is also a well-known praise singer at weddings, funerals, parties and other official occasions/ceremonies in Makhuduthamaga District of Sekhukhuneland.

The State of the Nation Address will also be attended by other special guests, luminaries and eminent persons and international guests. –


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