No praise singer at next week’s SONA

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For the first time in the history of a democratic South Africa, the President will not have a praise singer to usher him into the chamber during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) ceremony.

The services of the praise singer, known as an Imbongi in Isixhosa, has been withdrawn as a cost cutting measure. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver his SONA in Parliament on Thursday next week.

It has always been a tradition to have an Imbongi welcoming the President ahead of his address as he enters the chamber during SONA. President Ramaphosa had an Imbongi during his February SONA this year when he was still a so-called caretaker President in the last year of the 5th Parliament.

However, he will not have an Imbongi in the 6th Parliament as a recently inaugurated President, following the outcome of the May general elections. Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the decision to withdraw the praise singer was taken in concurrence with the President.

Meanwhile, about 1200 guests will attend the SONA on Thursday next week. Some of the guests include the two surviving Rivonia Trialists Andrew Mlangeni and Dennis Goldberg.

“Amongst the 1200 guests of various categories include former Presidents, Deputy Presidents, Presiding Officers, Chief Justices, veterans of our liberation struggle and the two surviving Rivonia Trialists, Mr Andrew Mlangeni and Dennis Goldberg, both of them having (been) given honorary doctorates by several universities, and giants of the 1956 Women’s March, Sophie De Bruyn and Gertrude Shope,” says Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli.

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