SONA2024 given the green light, as SA marks 30 years of democracy

Parliament says it is ready for the 2024 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The Presiding Officers, led by National Assembly (NA) Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson, Amos Masondo, held a media briefing on Tuesday on the planning and readiness for this year’s SONA.

COURTESY: X - @ParliamentofRSA

This year marks three decades of a democratic South Africa.

‘’As we prepare for the last State of the Nation Address by the sixth Parliament and the upcoming 7th national and provincial elections, we not only look forward to the future but also take a moment to commemorate our past achievements and lessons learned,’’ said Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, National Assembly (NA) Speaker.

‘’Thirty years ago, our nation embarked on a remarkable journey of transformation. From the shadows of apartheid and institutionalized racism, South Africa emerged as a beacon of hope, embracing the principles of democracy, human rights, non-racialism, non-sexism, and unity. Our Parliament has been at the heart of this transformation, steering the nation towards a prosperous and inclusive future.’’

‘’As we celebrate 30 years of democratic Parliament, let us remember the strides we have made in reconciliation, nation-building, and gender equality. Our journey has not been without challenges, but it is through these challenges that we have matured and strengthened our resolve to build a united and prosperous nation,’’ she added.

COURTESY: GovernmentZA

The State of the Nation Address serves to update the nation on government commitments and to outline the government’s programme of action for the new financial year. It is a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), presided over jointly by the Speaker and the Chairperson of the NCOP. 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.

‘’In this context, the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa, scheduled for February 8, 2024, transcends being a mere event in our nation's calendar. It holds significant importance as it marks the final SONA of the current five-year parliamentary term. Concurrently, as we prepare for this SONA, we are also engaged in extensive preparations for both the opening of the 7th Parliament and for welcoming the new generation of Members of Parliament. The task of finalizing bills that can be completed before the dissolution of this Parliament is underway. 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.’’

This year’s theme -“Following up on our commitments: making your future work better” – which has been the theme for the sixth administration

‘’This SONA proceedings will maintain the full ceremonial format of previous years. The activities include a 21-gun salute, an aircraft flypast, a ceremonial guard, the step guard salute, the singing of the national anthem, a full military band, and ceremonial processions involving provincial Speakers, Premiers, the judiciary, the Deputy President, and the President.’’

 ‘’The President will take a salute on the platform in front of the Madiba statue, located on the City Hall balcony. This position offers an optimal view of the national anthem performance by the South African National Defense Force military band, synchronized with the 21-gun salute and fly-past.’’

Approximately 490 Members of Parliament and representatives of the South African Local Government Association will be seated in the chamber.

‘’For this important occasion, several dignitaries have been invited to attend the State of the Nation Address (SONA) physically:


• Former President Mr. Thabo Mbeki,

• Former President Mr. Kgalema Montlanthe

• Former President Mr. Jacob Zuma

• Former Speaker and Deputy President Ms. Baleka Mbete

• Former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

• Former Deputy President David Mabuza

• Former Speaker Max Sisulu

• Chief Justice Zondo, Deputy Chief Justice Maya and the 15 Judges

• Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Alderman Geordin Hill-Lewis


Others prominent guests invited include including representatives from various international and regional multilateral organizations, parliamentary associations, and legislative bodies.’’

Mapisa-Nqukla says for this year's State of the Nation Address, it has the involved the junior guard of honour and eminent persons. The Junior Guard of Honour consists of 100 learners, selected from four schools in the Western Cape in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Education.

‘’These schools are Eros School, the Centre of Science and Technology (COSATU), Mfuleni Technical Academy, and Fairmount Secondary School. Introducing children to the workings of democracy and a democratic parliament from an early age is crucial. It fosters informed and responsible citizenship, provides foundational civic education, and encourages involvement in democratic institutions.’’

The language for 2024 SONA’s praise singer or Imbongi, will be SiSwati. 24-year-old Miss Senziwe Hatty Maliba, from Mpumalanga will usher the President into the House

‘’Senziwe Hatty Maliba, a from the Nkomazi municipality in the Mpumalanga province. Senziwe, also known as Nkosatane Nziwe, is a versatile artist with multiple talents, including being a radio presenter, MC, voice-over artist, and praise poet. She has shared the stage with some of the country's most renowned artists. Her performances have graced a wide range of governmental occasions, including official commemorative events, local government gatherings, cultural celebrations, award ceremonies, and beauty pageants.’’

Parliament has introduced a set of new joint rules designed to regulate proceedings during the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and which prohibit disruptions.

‘’Parliament has introduced a set of new joint rules designed to regulate proceedings during joint sittings of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, with the primary aim of maintaining order, decorum in the Chamber, and promoting civility among members. These rules, set to be implemented for the first time during this State of the Nation Address (SONA), are an essential step in ensuring that the proceedings, including the SONA and the Opening of Parliament, are conducted with the respect and seriousness they deserve.’’

‘’In terms of the new rules, no member is allowed to interrupt the President while delivering the State of the Nation Address. Similarly, interruptions are prohibited during the President's speech at the Opening of Parliament, which is the first sitting of the two Houses following an election. Additionally, these rules stipulate that no other business may be considered during a joint sitting other than the specific business for which the joint sitting is convened. These measures are critical in ensuring that these important national events are conducted in an orderly and respectful manner, reflecting the dignity of Parliament and the importance of these addresses in setting the nation's legislative and developmental agenda.’’

Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, says R6.5 million has been set aside for this year’s SONA

‘’As we have reported last year, events of this magnitude and scale do require resources and significant resources to be able to convene all the logistical infrastructure knowing that Parliament is not operating inside the parliament that we had. So we have set aside R6.5 million, as a budget. So as we work on, we will be able as a standard measure, to have a fully confide figure on how much was spent on the event, but it usually ranges from those areas. Last year, we put about R5 million, and this year is R6.5 million as a budget.’’

Close to 900 media personnel will cover this year’s SONA, and Bush Radio staff, who is part of the cohort, will ensure you are informed.


For Bush Radio News, I’m Mitchum George


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