Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Parliament’s Presiding Officers, led by the Speaker of the National Assembly, have expressed satisfaction with preparations for the State of the Nation Address (SONA), which President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver on Thursday, 9 February.
The Presiding Officers on Wednesday conducted a walkabout at the Cape Town City Hall to monitor the state of readiness ahead of SONA.
President Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver the State of the Nation Address on Thursday at 7pm.
Addressing media after the walkabout, National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: “We are happy with what we have seen… and the arrangements made by the teams from Parliament, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and the security cluster.”
Mapisa-Nqakula said a lot of discussions have transpired between the different teams, including the security cluster, to ensure the success of SONA.
“We think that the manner in which the front seat allocation has been done is the true reflection of the representation of the different constituencies,” the Speaker said.
This is the second year that the State of the Nation Address is being held at the City Hall after a fire severely damaged parts of the Old Assembly and the National Assembly buildings of Parliament.
Mapisa-Nqakula said there is a long way to go in the reconstruction of the damaged buildings, and it is most likely that SONA will “still be hosted in the City Hall” next year.
Throughout Wednesday, officials from various government departments were busy with final preparations for SONA. The City Hall precinct was a hive of activity, with accredited media houses erecting structures for broadcasting and conducting interviews.
In and around City Hall, police and members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been deployed at various strategic points.
The activity is good news for small business operators such as Yoliswa Matjobeni, who gets to ply her goods to an even bigger crowd.
“This is the time we get a boost. People flock here when the President speaks to the nation,” she told SAnews.
At midday on Thursday, Police Minister General Bheki Cele is expected to address a parade of members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other security forces, who are deployed in and around Cape Town to ensure the safety and security of the 2023 SONA.
The deployment comprises law enforcement agencies from the SAPS, SANDF, National Traffic Police, the Western Cape’s Provincial Traffic Police, City of Cape Town’s Metro Police, traffic services and law enforcement officers.
The parade will also be attended by senior management of the SAPS, led by the National Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola.
On Tuesday, the Presiding Officers assured South Africans that interruptions to SONA would not be tolerated and that action would be taken against those who attempt to interrupt the address.
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo, said they will ensure that the rules of Parliament are applied to Members of Parliament who disrupt proceedings on Thursday.
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. – SAnews.gov.za