SONA preparations on track

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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 Parliament’s state of readiness for the event.

President Jacob Zuma will deliver his SONA during a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday, February 9 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 received as Parliament the request by the President, the Speaker and the Chairperson… to embark on preparations for SONA.
“We are pleased to report those plans and preparations have gone well, with the teams we established across the board working together in order to make sure 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 preparations, Parliamentary officials convened meetings with key stakeholders involved in the organisation of the event on an annual basis, including a number of government departments.

Invitations to members of the public wishing to attend SONA activities were sent out last year and 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 for the event had also gone smoothly.
“In terms of plans and preparations, we are comfortable to say it is all systems go at that level…”

Increased media interest in this year’s SONA

The Secretary said the dinner previously traditionally hosted by Parliament after the President delivered his speech, would not happen 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 February 7 in phases.