Parliament says it expects the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to go ahead without any form of disruption. Addressing the media on the state of readiness, the Presiding Officers said they are satisfied that they are ready to host the President on Thursday evening.
National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says a deliberate political decision was taken to hold the event in-person, to send a message to those who were responsible for setting the building on fire.
Mapisa-Nqakula says, despite the logistical problems of holding the State of The Nation Address outside the precinct of Parliament, they are confident the event will be hosted successfully.
A total of 298 members of Parliament from both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces will attend the event in person at the Cape Town City Hall, while the rest will be on virtual platforms.
Mapisa-Nqakula says the decision to hold the event in person was to send a message to whomever thought they could disrupt the work of Parliament by setting the buildings on fire.
“If that act was meant to disrupt the workings of Parliament, then it was important for us to take this political decision that no burning of parliamentary building, no amount of sabotage will actually distract us from holding the State of the Nation Address,” says Mapisa-Nqakula.
The Speaker emphasised that had it not been for the State of National Disaster that limits the numbers, all members of parliament would in fact have been allowed to attend.
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NCOP Chairperson Amos Masondo said they are not concerned about possible disruptions, “we are not really anticipating any disruptions. But everything will be done to ensure that the SONA happened in a way that is positive and everything will be done to ensure that everything overall go well.”
On the question of how much the event will cost, Acting Secretary to Parliament, Baby Tyawa said the budget for this year is much higher than last year. This, he says, is mainly because the event is held off base.
“Noting the fact that the City Hall is a place where we have to invest, wall to wall broadcast, ICT, catering furniture and interpretation facilities, we have put aside R4 million and that includes the debates, up until the response from the president. On the day itself, we are anticipating expenditure of R1.9 (million),” says Tyawa.
Among the dignitaries expected are former President Thabo Mbeki, former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, former Speaker Frene Ginwala and possibly former Speaker Max Sisulu.
The President will take the National salute as usual.
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