All systems go for SONA

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It’s all systems go, and Parliament says it is ready to host the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2024 on Thursday. This comes as the Western Cape High Court dismissed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)’s application to prevent Parliament from implementing its new rules.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson Amos Masondo briefed the media on the state of readiness for the SONA and the handover to the seventh administration of a democratic South Africa.

This will be the first of two SONA’s in 2024, thereafter the National Assembly will dissolve before the general elections and after the new government is in place, a second SONA is expected.

“Additionally, the compilation of handover reports and collating legacy reports for the 6th Parliament is nearing completion. These efforts are crucial in ensuring a smooth transition and passing the baton to the incoming Parliament,” says Mapisa-Nqakula.

Parliament recently adopted the new rules for members, that it’s been working on since 2015. Under these rules, members will not be allowed to interrupt the President during his SONA speech.

“The President’s speech is the sole agenda item. Following this, Members of Parliament will engage in a two-day joint debate on the address, with the president’s reply scheduled for the subsequent day,” Mapisa-Nqakula added.

The EFF challenged the matter in court, but their application was dismissed with costs.

“And those who took us to court were reminded that it’s our responsibility as Parliament to govern ourselves. The rules constitute what we do to govern ourselves. It is only in the absence of rules where courts have said to use make up the rules,” says Lechesa Tsenoli, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly

“The first point I want to make, the rules are for Parliament. They are not meant for the EFF or the IFP, or any other political parties,” says Amos Masondo, NCOP Chairperson.

The costs of this SONA were also revealed.

“So, we have put aside an amount of about R6. 5 million as a budget. So, as we work on, we will be able as a standard measure after the event, we will be able to have a fully reconciled figure on how much was spent on the event,” says Xolile George, Secretary to Parliament.

The legislature has partnered with Proudly South Africa and urged MPs and guests to don South African garments for the occasion.

“The campaign aims to increase appreciation and visibility for local designers and their creations and to provide momentum for the growth of the fashion business,” Mapisa-Nqakula elaborates.

The Speaker says this initiative aims to foster a sense of pride in local craftsmanship.

Video: SONA 2024 – Briefing on the state of readiness with Mapisa-Nqakula