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May 2021 2nd edition

SONA 2021: No ceremonial festivities

Written by Allison Cooper

The Presiding Officers of Parliament have announced that given the current COVID-19 regulations, this year’s State of the Nation Address will be different, with no SONA red carpet, ceremonial guard and many other activities associated with the event.

Only 50 people will be allowed in the National Assembly chamber and while the President will address the joint sitting of Parliament physically in Parliament, most Members of Parliament, and some from other arms of the State and the diplomatic corps will follow proceedings virtually. 

“The Presiding Officers of Parliament have received correspondence from the President of the Republic requesting a joint sitting and upon consultation, agreed to schedule the address on Thursday, February 11 at 19:00,” says Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

In strict adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations, this year’s SONA will with no more than 50 Members of Parliament, representatives from the Judiciary and the Executive in the physical chamber and the rest of this category connecting virtually.  

“Due to the limited number of persons permitted within the precinct of Parliament, and Parliament’s sensitivity to the prevailing conditions, various ceremonial aspects that usually characterise the SONA have been suspended. 

“In this regard, there will be no red carpet and procession of the three arms of the State; physical participation of the junior and civil guard of honour; eminent persons; imbongi (praise singer); military parade that leads the presidential procession onto a saluting dais on the steps of the National Assembly; the guard of honour by the National Ceremonial Guard, and the 21-gun salute,” Mothapo says. 

Mothapo says SONA provides the President an opportunity to speak to the nation on the general state of South Africa, to reflect on a wide range of political, economic and social matters within the domestic and global contexts, to account to the nation on the work of government and to set out the programme of action for the coming year. - SAnews.gov.za