The annual State of the Nation Address (Sona) will have no red carpet or opportunities for outrageous fashion statements, and will likely cost significantly less due to its virtual nature, thanks to Covid-19.
This was revealed during a virtual media briefing where Parliament provided tentative details into how Sona 2021 would take place. The address must still adhere to regulations laid out in the Disaster Management Act.
More than 56 parliamentary staff members have contracted Covid-19, and 12 MPs and government officials have died since the outbreak of the pandemic.
This year’s theme is “Following up on your commitments: making your future work better.”
How will it work?
Sona will take place on Thursday 11 February at 7pm.
It will be a virtual, or “hybrid” briefing, which will see President Cyril Ramaphosa physically deliver the address from the chambers of the National Assembly.
No more than 50 MPs, representatives from the judiciary and the executive will be allowed in the physical chamber, and the remaining participants will attend the address virtually.
The address will still be broadcast on various platforms, including television, radio, social media and YouTube.
Following Ramaphosa’s address, a virtual debate will take place over two days, on 16 February and 17 February.
The president’s response to the debate will be aired on 18 February.
Members of the media that are required to physically stream Sona live will be screened, but it is not yet clear if they will be allowed into the parliamentary chambers where Ramaphosa will be speaking.
How much will it cost?
Parliament’s budget for this year’s Sona is R2,200,000.
However, members said that due to the event being scaled down dramatically, and given the context of Covid-19, “funds saved can be used for other important activities and requirements”.
In fact, members revealed that they do not think they will spend more than R1 million, adding that they “don’t want to spend a cent at all”.
Most of the costs will come from the webinar itself.
Funds raised will be redirected to “modernising technological capabilities of Parliament to enhance its constitutional functions of public participation, oversight and law-making”.