COPE calls for SONA to be delivered virtually

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The Congress of the People (COPE) is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the Nation and Parliament virtually from the Union Buildings during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The call comes as Parliament scrambles for accommodation to host SONA in February and since the National Assembly Chamber from where the President addresses the nation has collapsed after a fire destroyed the building on Sunday.

SONA is an annual address called by the President to address the nation through a Joint Sitting of Parliament and is followed by the SONA Debate.

COPE Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says, “The burning of Parliament is a very emotional and unforgivable crime against the people of South Africa. For the first time in the history of the country, the President can’t deliver the State of the Nation Address from Parliament.”

“Now the Speaker with other presiding officers must scramble for an alternative venue. We do understand that there are offers from some institutions, however, our view is that President Ramaphosa must address Parliament and the nation virtually from the union buildings,” added Bloem.

SABC News’ Parliamentary correspondent Mercedes Besent spoke to Parliament’s spokesperson on an alternative venue for SONA:

Meanwhile, Parliament says restrictions within the precinct of the institution will remain until management decides at the right time for various activities to take place.

This comes despite the fact that most of the buildings were not affected by the recent fire that had gutted the Old Assembly and National Assembly buildings.

Some employees have been permitted to work from the precinct and others will work virtually.

Marks building, 90 Plein Street, 120 Plein Street, National Council of Provinces, Good Hope and President’s office Tuynhuis were not affected by the fire.

Parliament’s Moloto Mothapo says management took a decision not to allow any activities to take place inside Parliament for now.

Mothapo says, “The management collectively has been here in the precinct of Parliament since Sunday, working together with the presiding officers and also remotely with the rest of the staff. There is a restriction of access to the precinct given the risk nature of the situation in the last few days as well as the investigations that are underway.”

Additional reporting by SABC News reporter Abongwe Kobokana.