The State of the Nation Address, February 2018

What is the State of the Nation Address?

It is an annual address to the nation by the President of the Republic of South Africa as the Head of State which focuses on the current political and socio-economic state of the nation. 

When is the State of the Nation Address happening?

  • The State of the Nation Address (or SONA) will be delivered to a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces) on Friday 16 February 2018 at 7pm.
  • The State of the Nation Address will be broadcast live on: DStv Channel 408, SABC TV, eNCA, ANN7, SABC radio stations and Parliament’s YouTube Channel. 

What is the theme for the 2018 State of the Nation Address? 

The 2018 theme is Making Your Future Work Better – Learning from Madiba.

What happens during the State of the Nation Address? 

  • The President sets out government’s key policy objectives and deliverables for the year ahead;
  • It highlights the achievements and challenges experienced over the past year and maps the year ahead;
  • It covers wide-ranging political, economic and social matters and considers the general state of South Africa;
  • It deliberates on South Africa’s domestic affairs as well as its continental and international relations; and
  • The full address is recorded in the Minutes of Proceedings. 

What happens after the State of the Nation Address?

  • Political parties have an opportunity to debate, comment and raise questions on matters addressed in the President’s speech during a debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address. This year the debate is scheduled for Monday, 19 February 2018 at 10am. The President will have the opportunity to reply to the debate on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 at 2pm.

The cyclical link between the State of the Nation Address, the Budget and the Oversight function of Parliament

The State of the Nation Address outlines government’s priorities for the year;

  • The Minister of Finance allocates the Budget in line with the priorities outlined in the State of Nation Address including regular reporting. The Minister of Finance will deliver the budget speech in the National Assembly Chamber on Wednesday, 21 February 2018;
  • Parliament conducts oversight to ensure that government delivers on the priorities set out in the State of the Nation Address and checks that allocated funds are spent accordingly.

The State of the Nation Address, the Budget, Oversight and You

The State of the Nation Address and the Budget is relevant to all South African citizens. It addresses the needs and priorities of our nation and the spending of money for and on behalf of our nation – the people of South Africa.


The State of the Nation Address is divided into three parts. The first is the important public participation role in the ceremony when the Civil Guard of Honour welcomes the President and his guests as they walk along the red carpet. This is followed by a state ceremonial, which includes a 21-gun salute and the South African Air Force flypast and finally the official address by the President.

Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) line the route that the President takes to Parliament.

The Military Guard of Honour participates in the ceremony and the military band plays South Africa’s national anthem.

In a general election year, two State of the Nation Addresses are delivered.

The State of the Nation Address is one of the rare occasions where the three arms of State, namely the Executive represented by the President, Deputy President and Ministers; the Judiciary, represented by the country’s Chief Justice and the Judge Presidents; and the Legislature, represented by the Members of Parliament gather in one place.

The provincial and local spheres of government are also represented.