2021 SONA Takes Place On 31st Anniversary Of Mandela’s Release From Prison

“Various categories of guests, including members of the public, who cannot be accommodated will link up through a webinar that has a capacity for 1 000 guests. The platform will be non-interactive, with no chat capabilities.”

2021 SONA Takes Place On 31st Anniversary Of Mandela’s Release From Prison-SurgeZirc SA
Nelson Mandela/Photo File: Britannica

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) this evening will take place on the 31st anniversary of former President Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo says other MPs and guests will follow proceedings virtually.

“Various categories of guests, including members of the public, who cannot be accommodated will link up through a webinar that has a capacity for 1 000 guests. The platform will be non-interactive, with no chat capabilities.”

“Former President Thabo Mbeki, former Deputy President Phumizle Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Speaker Baleke Mbete and former National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chair Mninwa Mahlangu registered for the webinar,” adds Mothapo.

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Several roads around Parliament will be closed in anticipation of the State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening, despite it being a very downscaled affair due to COVID-19. Despite this, Parliament’s Presiding Officers say security outside the precinct will remain tight.

Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise says security arrangements outside the precinct will be conducted by the government’s security cluster.

“We will confirm with the executive why roads will be closed. As far as we know, inside Parliament, no security and that is where our jurisdiction starts and ends as Parliament. Do know, people who want to march, subject to confirmation with security cluster ministers, can say whether closures related to that.”

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Modise says the State of the Nation Address is expected to cost about R100 000. This is significantly less than the millions of rand it has cost taxpayers in previous years.

The usual pomp and ceremony around the event have been cancelled due to the DCOVI-19 pandemic.

Only 50 people will be allowed inside the National Assembly when President Cyril Ramaphosa presents his address, while other members of Parliament and guests will follow proceedings on virtual platforms.

These include MPs, guests and media. Modise says this year the biggest expense will be connectivity costs. “The only cost to bear as Parliament for this particular SONA will be the cost of paying for virtual connectivity. Thus far, Parliament is estimating just over R100 000 for this whole exercise,” explains Modise.

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