Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana says Parliament is ready to host this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Mgidlana said this when he briefed the media in the National Assembly on Tuesday on Parliament’s state of readiness for the event.
President Jacob Zuma will deliver his SONA during a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday, 9 February 2017 at 7pm.
The speech will be broadcast live on the Parliamentary channel and by other media outlets. “The preparations on our side started as early as last year. We started around October when we had received as Parliament the request by the President, the Speaker and the Chairperson… to embark on the preparations for SONA.
“We are pleased to report to you that those plans and preparations have gone very well, with the teams that we established across the board working together in order to make sure that they deliver a good event, a good occasion for the President, who will be presenting his State of the Nation Address to the [public], that is looking forward to receive [his inputs],” he said.
As part of the preparations, Parliamentary officials convened meetings with key stakeholders involved in the organisations of the event on an annual basis, including several government departments.
Invitations to members of the public across various sectors, wishing to attend SONA activities, were sent out last year and were closed in December.
Those invited include prominent persons, institutions supporting the Constitution, NGOs, religious institutions, students, pensioners, small businesses, diplomats and guests of the President, among others.
He said testing of equipment that will be used for the event has also gone smoothly.
“In terms of our plans and our preparations, we are comfortable to say it is all systems go at that level...”
Increased media interest in this year’s SONA
Meanwhile, the Secretary said that the dinner that was previously traditionally hosted by Parliament after the President delivered his speech, would not occur again this year, due to budget constraints.
He also said there has been increased media interest in this year’s event. About 70 media houses will be covering the State of the Nation Address, with 713 journalists having applied for accreditation.
This is an increase compared to last year’s 40 media outlets.
The Parliamentary theme for this year’s SONA will be anchored on the 20th anniversary of the Constitution.
Road closures around the Parliamentary precinct will commence from 7 February in phases.