Officials arrive for the first-ever Friday SONA

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An array of high profile dignitaries have started arriving for the State of the Nation Address to be delivered by newly-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa – after a dramatic week of victories and losses depending on which side of the political fence one is.

Former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW De Klerk are among the high-ranking officials to attend the event, as are former National Assembly Speakers Dr Frene Ginwala and Max Sisulu.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his wife, COPE leader Mosuioa Lekota and ACDP leader Rev. Meshoe were some of the people to arrive early.

EFF officials including leader Julius Malema and Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi made a low-key entrance shying away from the media attention.

However, until Friday afternoon, it was still unclear whether former President Jacob Zuma would attend the much-anticipated SONA, which he was initially scheduled to deliver.

The uncertain, inconsistent weather of Cape Town and the unpredictable clouds that hung over the city on Friday morning later cleared, setting up a beautiful warm afternoon.

Perhaps the weather unpredictability was a perfect reflection of the unstable mood in the country during the fateful week leading up to the much-talked about event.

Week of uncertainty

Firstly, Zuma was the president of the country clinging onto power when the week began – and it was unclear whether negotiations between him and Ramaphosa would yield any positive results. The uncertainty resulted in the ANC caucus reluctantly resolving to support an EFF-sponsored Motion of No Confidence to oust Zuma brought forward to Thursday.

Then a press briefing which was expected to be addressed by Zuma at 10am on Wednesday was cancelled, leaving the nation in the dark about the country’s leadership and the future. As if that wasn’t enough, Zuma, appeared, unannounced on the public broadcaster in the afternoon, lamenting the “unfair” treatment he was getting from the ANC leadership. He swore he would not resign without being told what it is that he’d done wrong, promising to address the nation again later in the day.

But the nation then had to wait until two hours before midnight before they could hear the President resign after long speech laden with mixed tones.

Whether Zuma turns up for the SONA remains to be seen.

Bishop of the Anglican Church, Thabo Makgoba, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Angolan National Assembly Speaker Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos; Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders PP Maubane; members of the Judiciary; Speakers of the Provincial Legislatures and representatives of the Chapter Nine Institutions are also expected to grace the SONA – the first ever to be delivered on a Friday.

Mandla Manganyi (North West), Patrick Thibedi (Mpumalanga) Thina Mosiapoa (Northern Cape), Robert Tlou (Eastern Cape), Hensford Luthuli (KwaZulu Natal); Lucinda Evans (Western Cape), Sipho Kubeka (Gauteng), Mmanyaku Matlala (Limpopo), and Goitsemang Ngake (Free State), are some of the ‘imminent persons’ attending the event from all the nine provinces.

More than a thousand guests are expected to attend the SONA.

Just like Zuma’s speech of mixed tones, it’s a cool, but fickle-weather day with rainy clouds gathering and clearing over Cape Town, but with 0% chances of rain in the drought-stricken part of the country.

But, beyond it all, whether the changes playing out in the political arena are the spring of hope or the winter of disaster, remains to be seen.


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