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A peek into how Ramaphosa's Sona speech is written

President Cyril Ramaphosa works with a team but is also hands-on, making changes right up to the moment he gets into the vehicle in the official convoy that will ferry him to Parliament.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at his official residence, Genadendal in Cape Town, ahead of the 2020 State of the Nation Address. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - With all eyes on President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday night, Presidency officials have given a rare insight into how the speech is crafted.

By their account, Ramaphosa works with a team but is also hands-on, making changes right up to the moment he gets into the vehicle in the official convoy that will ferry him to Parliament.

Ramaphosa’s speech is expected to last about an hour and will be closely watched, not only by citizens feeling the economic pinch but also by investors and ratings agencies.

Presidency officials have cautioned that Ramaphosa can only do so much on Thursday night when he must give feedback on past pledges, spell out his vision for the coming year and address the many burning issues confronting the country.

They’ve also given a glimpse of how Sona is crafted, which by Wednesday afternoon was in its fifth draft.

The head of the Presidency’s policy unit, Professor Busani Ngcaweni, is one of the speechwriters. He said Ramaphosa made multiple changes to the text: “So, at the end of the process, what appears is exactly what the president planned and had conceptualised – a lot of changes do take place, so it is his voice.”

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said the speech got tweaked right up to the last minute: “Each year, I tell you guys, you don’t believe me – the final version comes in as the president gets into the convoy.”

* EXPLAINER: Your guide to Sona 2020

PREPARATIONS UNDER WAY

Police and parliamentary officials are putting final touches on preparations for the opening of Parliament.

Parliamentarians and dignitaries will walk the red carpet before Ramaphosa delivers his address at 7 pm.

Roads are being barricaded, police are patrolling the streets and parliamentary officials are dusting the red carpet.

The city's streets are buzzing with soldiers and citizens eager to witness the pomp and ceremony.

Ramaphosa's address is expected to largely focus on power utility Eskom and other troubled state-owned enterprises.

Crime and the economy are also expected to dominate the address, as South Africans look for answers in a difficult time for the country.

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