Parliament. Picture: Reuters/Rogan Ward
PARLIAMENT - Preparations for next week's State of the Nation address (SONA) were "at an advanced stage", parliament's presiding officers said on Thursday.

Briefing journalists on SONA, the second for 2019 due to a new Parliament being put in place following the May general elections, Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the event had been significantly "modified".

"In making these modifications, the prevailing economic hardships that continue to face most South Africans and the expected unfavourable weather conditions have been taken into account," said Tsenoli.

Some of the ceremonial aspects that would be missing from the June SONA would be the junior and civil guards chosen to form part of the State procession.

"The eminent persons, who are usually selected form provinces on the basis of their oustanding achievements in their respective fields, will also not be part of the ceremony," said Tsenoli.

Some 1,200 guests have been invited to attend. They include former presidents, deputy presidents, presiding officers, chief justices and the last two surviving members of the Rivonia trial, liberation struggle activists Andrew Mlangeni and Denis Goldberg.

Some R2m has been budgeted for the SONA, though Lechesa pointed out that they would likely spend significantly less.

African News Agency