9 Facts About SONA 2022

1. What is the SONA?

It is an annual address given by the President to a joint session of Parliament and marks the official opening of the legislature. It is designed to be a report on the economic and social state of the nation, and includes a review of the past year and priorities for the current year. This is a special and unique occasion where all three arms of the state are in the same place together.

In a general election year, two State of the Nation Addresses are delivered. The tradition of giving a State of the Nation Address is rooted in the Joint Rules of Parliament, read together with the Constitution. Rule 7(1)(a) of the Joint Rules states that the President may call a joint sitting of the Houses when it is necessary to deliver the annual or a special address to Parliament. This is the only item on the agenda for this special sitting and it is presided by both the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

2. Time and place

SONA will be delivered on Thursday, February 10 at 19:00 to a prime time TV audience. Since 2010, SONA has been delivered in the evening to give more South Africans an opportunity to listen to the address. For the first time in our constitutional democracy, the address will happen outside the parliamentary precinct. Parliament had to find an alternative venue following the fire that gutted the National Assembly Chamber in early January.

Following discussion and inspection, the Cape Town City Hall was selected as the most suitable facility that met all the parliamentary requirements regarding infrastructure and capacity. The joint rules were amended to make provision for this as it did not provide for circumstances where the stipulated venue is not available. All the appropriate rules and laws will apply to this venue. The post-Sona debate will also take place at the City Hall.

3. Theme

The theme for the 2022 SONA is consistent with the theme of the Sixth Parliament, “Following up on our commitments: making your future work better”.

4. What will the President say?

The speech will seek to build on previous speeches and commitments. The speech will also be an opportunity for the President to update the nation on progress made and layout his plans and vision to grow South Africa. It’s one of the most important speeches that the President delivers in any year.

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5. Who are the key guests at the State of the Nation Address?

In keeping with government regulations to manage the spread of Covid-19, a total of 298 MPs will be seated in the chamber, while a limited number of representatives of other arms of State, spheres of government, dignitaries and media will be allowed in the gallery. The National Assembly will be physically represented by 238 MPs, whilst the National Council of Provinces will have 75 delegates, including provincial Premiers and SALGA representatives. The rest of the Members of Parliament will connect through a virtual platform.

There will be a limited number of representatives of other arms of State, spheres of government and dignitaries. The dignitaries invited for physical attendance include former Presidents, former Presiding Officers, SADC-PF President, Dean and the Regional Deans of the Diplomatic Corps and Secretaries of Provincial Legislatures. Guests who have confirmed their attendance include former President Thabo Mbeki; former Deputy President, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; and former Speakers of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, Mr Max Sisulu and Dr Frene Ginwala.

6. Budget

The budget is set at R4 million but an expenditure of R1.9 million is anticipated. Parliament spent R116 000 for last year’s SONA.

7. When do political parties get to respond to the SONA?

The debate on the State of the Nation Address will take place on 14 and 15 February. The President will reply to the debate on 16 February. The debate allows the opposition to give a rebuttal to the President’s speech while those from the governing party defend the President and government's record and proposals.

8. What is the format of the ceremony?

The ceremony involves a mounted police escort and a military ceremonial motor escort, and the lining of the President’s route to the City Hall by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The military band will lead the nation in singing the national anthem. In keeping with tradition, an imbongi will be part of the procession when the President enters the Cape Town City Hall. The North West Province’s Taung-based Tswana praise singer, Mr Jason Mosimanegape Jeremia, has been selected as the praise singer for this year’s occasion.

9. Where can I watch?

You can catch the live broadcast on SABC Radio, SABC TV, various other news broadcasting channels and Parliament TV (DSTV Channel 408). It will also be streamed on Parliament’s YouTube channel.

Source: parliament.gov.za


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