President Cyril Ramaphosa is seen outside Parliament before delivering his State of the Nation Address at a joint sitting of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa is seen outside Parliament before delivering his State of the Nation Address at a joint sitting of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

No plans for a morning SONA

By Siyaboinga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Feb 11, 2020

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Cape Town - Parliament has not considered any move to revert to having the State of the Nation Address in the morning as it was the case under former president Thabo Mbeki.

Deputy Speaker of the National Council of Provinces Sylvia Lucas told the media this week that there was no plan to go back to the morning slot.

Former president Jacob Zuma began having the SONA in the evening in order to allow more people, who would be at work, to watch it on television.

This is said to have increased the number of viewers in the evening.

Lucas said the issue of having the SONA back in the morning session was not on the cards.

She said it was not under discussion.

“The possibility of bringing the State of the Nation Address to the morning slot; it’s something that is not being discussed,” she said.

This week, Parliament was doing the final touches for the SONA, which takes place on Thursday.

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said preparations for the SONA began last year, and they had finalised almost everything.

She said they had budgeted a combined figure of R7.3 million for the SONA last June and this year.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected last year, the SONA was held in June. This will be followed by the traditional date of February’s address.

But there is no indication that Parliament would soon consider going back to the morning session to hold SONA.

This was done during the time of Mbeki.

Parliament also announced this week it has cut back on some of the pomp and ceremony with which the SONA is associated.

Modise said a few days before the SONA, they will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release from prison of late former president Nelson Mandela.

Mandela was released by FW de Klerk following his announcement on February 2, 1990.

Other than former presidents and ex-speakers of the assembly to attend SONA, Parliament has also invited diplomats from several foreign countries.

Modise said no more than 2 000 guests had been invited for the event.

Ramaphosa’s SONA will be debated by political parties the following week, over two days, and the president will reply to the debate at the end of the week.

The national legislature’s cost-cutting measures have seen the scrapping of the gala dinner that is held for MPs. This has been going on over the last few years.

POLITICAL BUREAU

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