1. Good day ladies and gentlemen of the media. This is our first interaction with you in this new year, and wish you all a fruitful year ahead. Thank you for your presence here today.
  2. We have called this media briefing to bring you and the nation up to speed on our state of preparedness to host one of the most important events in our annual calendar, the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
  3. As the Executive Authority of Parliament, we received correspondence from the Presidency requesting a joint sitting and, upon consultation, agreed on Thursday, February 13 at 19:00.
  4. The theme for SONA is consistent with that of the 6th Parliament which was ushered in following the 2019 democratic elections, “Following up on our commitments: making your future work better”. The theme underscores the character of a people’s Parliament, which the Constitution implores us to entrench and deepen democracy as well as improve the quality of life of all South Africans. In addition to making laws, conducting oversight and promoting public participation, Parliament will also continue to strengthen transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the needs of the people to ensure a truly non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.
  5. The State of the Nation Address is called in terms of Section 42(5) of the Constitution by the President of the Republic, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. It is a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament and one of the rare occasions that brings together the three arms of the State under one roof.
  6. SONA provides the President with an opportunity to speak to the nation on the state of South Africa, to reflect on a wide range of political, economic and social matters within domestic and global contexts. During SONA, the president also updates the nation on progress on government commitments and outlines government’s programme of action for the new financial year.

  1. Only one item is on the agenda for this special sitting, the President’s State of the Nation Address. The sitting will be presided over jointly by the National Assembly Speaker and the National Council of Provinces Chairperson under the applicable joint rules of Parliament.
  2. A few days before SONA, on 11 February 2020, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of former President Nelson Mandela from Victor Verster prison, now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre.
  3. Madiba’s values of peace, forgiveness, compassion and human dignity will guide Parliament’s year-long programme. A mural at Parliament will reflect our journey since Madiba’s release.
  4. Parliament has been preparing for SONA since last year. We are now ready to welcome a wide range of guests, reflecting the diversity of South African society next Thursday.
  5. We remain vigilant and sensitive of the economic challenges we face, and therefore the budget for SONA has been carefully designed to ensure that key features of the ceremony are retained.
  6. In line with recent SONAs, the dinner for Members of Parliament and guests will not take place. We have further reduced costs by withdrawing the Junior and Civil Guard of Honour, Eminent Persons, and the involvement of the radio programme winners This has been done without compromising the public participation aspect of the ceremony.

Parliament has ensured that through the various categories of guests and through a wide range of platforms, members of public form part of this important event in line with the institution’s constitutional obligations.

  1. The advertising and branding budget has also been considerably reduced.
  2. This State of the Nation Address is the second of this current financial year 2019/2010; the first was held in June following the 2019 elections. A total of R7.3m has been budgeted for both events. The June SONA, which also served as the official opening of the sixth democratic Parliament, cost the institution R2.6m. Consistent with the trend over the previous years, indications are that the spending on the both events will be far lesser than the budgeted amount.
  3. SONA is one event that brings together the three arms of the state and spheres of government who will form part of the ceremonial procession to mark the start of the official programme. The processions will consist of, amongst others, the Judiciary, Provincial Speakers and the Premiers who will proceed to the Assembly Chamber through the main entrance of the National Assembly building. As is customary during key state events, a full military parade will lead the presidential procession onto a saluting dais on the steps of the National Assembly to receive the ceremonial honours, the guard of honour by the National Ceremonial Guard, the 21-gun salute, the national anthem and a salute flight.
  4. In keeping with the character of this institution as an African Parliament, an Imbongi (traditional poet) will recite a poem as procession, led by the Head of the State are ushered into the National Assembly chamber. Ms Masingita Shibambu, well known as Ntombhi Ya Mutsonga from Matiyani Village, Malamulele in the Limpopo, has been selected as Imbongi for this SONA, and will recite her poem in Xitsonga. Languages for poetry are considered on rotational basis to give all South African languages a fair and equal opportunity.
  5. Parliament’s choir made up of staff members will perform on the stairs of the National Assembly chamber as guests enter the gallery.
  6. There are different categories of guests invited and these include former Heads of State, former Presiding Officers, the diplomatic corps, guests of the President, representative from civil society, faith-based organisations, representatives of statutory and constitutional institutions. The categories of guests are constituted of about Two Thousand and Twenty-One (2 021) invited guests.
  7. Guests who have confirmed their attendance:
  • Former President Mr Thabo Mbeki
  • Former President Mr Kgalema Motlanthe
  • Former Deputy President Ms Baleka Mbete
  • Former Deputy President Mr Frederik de Klerk
  • Former National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala
  1. After the delivery of the address by the President, the two Houses will debate the address of the President in a joint sitting over two days, 18 and 19 February. The President will reply to the debate by Members of Parliament on February 20.
  2. SONA will be broadcast live both on radio and television as well as streamed live on the Parliamentary website, Parliamentary DSTV television channel and Parliament’s YouTube channel.
  3. Ladies and gentlemen, I can confidently say we are ready to host this auspicious event, we have put in the hard work to ensure that it is all systems go next week.
  4. I also wish to express our collective word of gratitude for your contribution as members of the media in increasing public awareness of Parliament, understanding of its mandate and the appreciation of its work. This is evident through a significant number of media applications received for media accreditation totaling eight- hundred and thirteen (813) to cover SONA. Approved applications will be published on the Parliament website with all accreditation details.