Cape Town - The sitting of Parliament where President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona) will be attended by 300 MPs and 70 guests to comply with COvid-19 protocols.
Briefing the joint programme committee on Thursday, National Assembly Secretary Masibulele Xaso told the MPs from both Houses that the Sona, which will be held on February 10, will be held in the Cape Town City Hall.
“This matter has been canvassed in meetings of the whippery and other meetings that have been held within the institution,” Xaso said.
He also said up to 300 members from the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces would be in attendance physically.
“The rest if the members will join virtually.”
However, Xaso said guests invited to attend physically were members of the judiciary, premiers and speakers of provincial legislatures, former presidents, heads of Chapter Nine institutions, and members of the diplomatic corps.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula put the number of the invited guests to be at the public gallery at 70 as opposed to the 300 of MPs on the floor of the city hall.
She said they would have really wanted the full complement of the MPs to be in attendance.
“We are at 300 on floor of the City Hall. It is fair to observe health protocols,” she said.
“The City Hall will not take full complement of MP. The public gallery will take about 70: the judiciary, Speakers, member of diplomatic corps, heads of Chapter Nine institutions and the media,” she said.
The language to be used by the praise singer on the occasion of Sona is Tswana.
In line with Covid-19 protocols, there will be use of masks, physical distancing and sanitising of hands.
“In honour of people who may passed on through Covid-19, there is going to be a lantern lighting ceremony at the foyer of the City Hall,” Xaso said.
Xaso said all arrangements have been made to ensure that there are doctors paramedics and mobile clinics to assist with whatever that occur on the day.
“Professional nurses will conduct screening of MPs and staff. The clinic will be for consultations and one room in the clinical will be reserved for emergencies,” he said.
Xaso told the MPs that the projected budget for this year’s Sona was R1.9 million.
“What we can indicate at this point in time is that the budget figure is around R1.9m at the moment. That figure is being refined and it could go down for February 10,” he said.
Xaso insisted that they wanted to spend within the amount.
“The budget that we work with and instead of going up for that one day, we should go down,” he said.
Asked about security measures put in place, Acting Secretary of Parliament Baby Tyawa said there was a meeting of National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure meeting looking at the plans presented to the parliamentarians.
“That is a forum that will look at securing the place and assist with critical security around the matters,” Tyawa said.
Xaso said everything possible was being made to ensure there were proper security arrangements on the Sona day.
“Meetings have been taking between ourselves and the security people. Of course, it would not be possible to go into details in a meeting such as this one. Everything is being done to ensure the event is properly secured.”
He told the MPs that there would a search park, and MPs would leave their cars in Parliament and be shuttled to the City Hall with an option to walk by those preferring to do so.
“Details about parking and shuttling of MPs to the City Hall will be made available,” Xaso said.