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Sona 2021: Smaller budget, fewer attendees & no red carpet fanfare

While the event will be broadcast live, it will feature none of the pomp and ceremony traditionally rolled out and there will be no red carpet parade by MPs and dignitaries.

FILE: Public Works officials rolling the red carpet outside the Parliamentary precinct ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s third State of the Nation Address on 20 June 2019.  Picture: @GCISMedia/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has unveiled plans for a dramatically restrained State of the Nation Address (Sona) next month, due to COVID-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to deliver his sixth Sona on the 11 February at 7 pm.

While the event will be broadcast live, it will feature none of the pomp and ceremony traditionally rolled out and there will be no red carpet parade by MPs and dignitaries.

While Parliament has budgeted R2.4 million for this year’s Sona, it is likely to spend under half of that.

Ramaphosa will be physically present in the chamber to deliver his speech. The joint sitting will see only 50 people allowed to be present in the chamber, while the rest will connect online.

“We keep to the confinements of the regulations of COVID-19 and that is why we are saying altogether, the people – whether they are members of Parliament, or the judiciary, or the president - we will be under 50 people in the chamber. Because we cannot have rules that affect society and that do not affect ourselves.”

Acting Secretary to Parliament Baby Tyawa said expenditure was expected to come in at under R1 million.

She said any savings would be ploughed into modernising Parliament’s information communications technology and improving connectivity.

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