President Jacob Zuma is set to present his State of the Nation Address, on Thursday evening, a day which is rich with symbolism and state ceremonial activities which showcases the country’s cultural diversity.
Preparations are almost complete for what is known as the most inclusive day in the political and parliamentary calendar, the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.
The day brings together the three arms of the state: the executive, the judiciary and the legislature – who will play out their constitutional roles in full view of the nation.
From the red carpet, mounted police escort and a military ceremonial motor escort, the lining of the President’s route by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), a national salute, military band, a fly-past and a 21-gun salute, the day is colourful and also sees ordinary citizens, especially children participating.
Proceedings at Parliament start at around 16.30. This will see members of the Judiciary, Speakers of Provincial Legislatures, Provincial Premiers and Diplomats arrive at the Company Gardens entrance (in Government Avenue) to the Old Assembly.
Junior and Civil Guards of Honour and Eminent Persons take up positions on both sides of the red carpet along Parliament Street from the entrance to the Parliamentary precinct.
This Junior Guard of Honour comprises students from schools that have represented South Africa or their province at international, national, provincial or local level competitions in areas of sports, the arts, cultural activities or any other competition that has helped to positively profile the country, province or locality.
Eminent South Africans who are invited are drawn from the provinces and are individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the country.
Then former presidents, former deputy presidents, the former national assembly speaker and former chief justices arrive.
This will be followed by a procession of premiers, speakers of provincial legislatures, judiciary, parliament’s presiding officers, Deputy President and the President.
The President will take the national salute on a podium outside the National Assembly building (at 18.55) which includes the 21 gun salute. A fly past by the South African Air Force takes place at the same time.
The 21-gun salute became the international norm for the highest honour a nation rendered and it is fired in honour of the Head of State, the national flag, the Head of State of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family and a former Head of State.
The President will then be ushered in the National Assembly by a performance from an Imbongi [praise poet].
President Zuma is set to deliver his address in the National Assembly Chamber at 19.00.
Ordinary South Africans can watch the entire proceedings live on their televisions. The event will also be streamed on public viewing spots set out across the country.
In the Eastern Cape the viewings will take place at:
- Freemantle Boys High School in Lady Frere
- Mvenyane Senior Secondary School Matatiele
- Walter Sisulu University, Post dam Campus. East London
In Free State:
- Botshabelo Thusong Service Centre
- Community Hall Rouxville
- Phuthaditjhaba multipurpose hall
- Letaba Estate Farms in Tzaneen
- Matatshe Correctional Centre
- Polokwane Prison
- Dlangezwa High School Mhlatuze Local Municipality
- Indaka Community Hall, Alfred Duma Municipality
- Impendle Thusong Service Centre
- Klerksdorp BOSASA place of safetyin Motlasana
- Reivilo High School, Greater Taung
- Ramochana Prison, Rustenburg
- Correctional Centre Upington
- Seodin/Kuruman Correctional Services
- 3 Sai Military Base in Sol Plaatjie
- Breede River High School at Breede Valley Municipality
- Protea Community Hall, Overstrand Municipality
- Engelbrecht Primary- Elands Bay
In Gauteng, public viewing areas will be at Tshwaraganang Orphanage Centre, Hammanskraal and Odi Prison, while in Mpumalanga it will be at Izimbali Combined MST School.