President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to deliver the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday evening at 7pm, in person, from the National Assembly.
The address by the president comes at a critical time for the country amid corruption scandals, load shedding, and a weak economy decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And unlike the pomp and ceremony of previous years, the Sona this time will have a limited number of dignitaries and guests attending the event in person due to virus concerns.
Here is what you should expect for the 2021 Sona:
- The sitting will be hybrid with a limited number of MPs, distinguished guests, and media in the National Assembly chamber. Other guests and MPs will link up through virtual platforms.
- A total of 30 MPs representing the two houses of Parliament from various political parties will be physically in the National Assembly.
- Fourteen MPs will be attending from the ANC, five from the DA, and one each from the IFP, FF+, ACDP, Good party, Cope, NFP, ATM, AIC, and Al Jama-ah. The EFF’s and all other MPs will connect through a virtual platform.
- There will be a rendition of a poem by poet, singer, and film producer, Siphokazi Jonas, who hails from the Eastern Cape.
- 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 to link up through a webinar.
- Also present in the chamber will be Deputy President David Mabuza and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, among other selected guests.
- The webinar has the capacity to accommodate 1000 guests and it will be non-interactive, with no chat capabilities.
- National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise estimated that the event would cost in the region of R100,000. R2.2 million was initially budgeted for the Sona.
- After the president’s address, there will be a candle-lighting ceremony led by Ramaphosa and the presiding officers of Parliament in honour of citizens who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.