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The Presiding Officers of Parliament say they are confident that tomorrow’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) will run smoothly. 

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said this when reading a statement of the Presiding Officers on Wednesday. 

“Yesterday, the Presiding Officers received a final briefing about Parliament’s preparations to host the 2021 State of the Nation Address from the institution’s SONA Project Team. We are confident that all will proceed smoothly tomorrow for the hosting of the first ever Hybrid State of the Nation Address. 

“President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his speech in person at the National Assembly Chamber in Cape Town at 19:00 tomorrow, with a limited number of dignitaries and members of the media forming part of the public gallery. 

“The sitting will be hybrid, with limited numbers of Members of Parliament (MPs), distinguished guests and media in the National Assembly (NA) Chamber and others linking up through virtual platforms.” 

Mothapo said a total of 30 Members of Parliament, representing the two Houses of Parliament from various parliamentary political parties, will be physically in the National Assembly, with 14 coming from the ANC, five from the DA, and one each from the IFP, FF+, ACDP, GOOD, COPE, NFP, ATM, AIC and Aljamah-ah. 

All other MPs will connect through a virtual platform. 

The State of the Nation Address is an opportunity for the President to speak to the nation about a variety of domestic and global issues. It’s also an opportunity to update the nation on progress with government’s existing commitments and key plans for the year ahead. 

Mothapo said measures are in place to ensure wide public access to the SONA, while observing necessary COVID-19 protocols.   

Various categories of guests, including members of the public, who cannot be accommodated in the Chamber or precinct, will link up through a webinar that has capacity for 1 000 guests. The platform will be non-interactive, with no chat capabilities. 

Former President Thabo Mbeki, former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and former National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Mninwa Mahlangu have all registered for the webinar. 

“Preceding the President’s delivery of the SONA will be a candle lighting ceremony, led by the President of the Republic and the Presiding Officers of Parliament. The ceremony is being held in honour and remembrance of South Africans who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Part of this solemn ceremony will be the rendition of a poem by talented poet, singer and film producer, Siphokazi Jonas, from the Eastern Cape. She has featured at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country and has performed with renowned musicians, including Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies and Dave Reynolds. Her poem will be in a recorded form,” Moloto said. 

While the Presiding Officers announced at a state of readiness briefing last month that the budget for the event, had been set at R2 million, Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise said there were indications that the event would cost in the region of R100 000. 

Members of the public will be able to follow the SONA live on the Parliamentary channel DStv channel 408 and on social media platforms such as YouTube, major television channels and community radio stations.


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