Modise dismisses DA, EFF attempts to turn Sona into virtual affair

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said that no MP was compelled to attend, and that all safety precautions would be in place.

Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise delivers her speech during Parliament's budget vote on 16 July 2019. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has dismissed appeals from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to turn the State of the Nation Address (Sona) into an entirely virtual meeting.

The parties made their case at Thursday’s meeting of the National Assembly’s programming committee.

They argued that there was no need for MPs to be present in the chamber when President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his address on 11 February, saying that he could address the nation as he does during what have
become known as “family meetings”.

The DA’s Natasha Mazzone contended that a virtual State of the Nation Address would save money which could then be used on COVID-19 vaccines.

The EFF’s Floyd Shivambu argued that MPs and parliamentary staff would be unnecessarily exposed to contracting COVID-19 if physically present.

"The ANC can go and clap hands for its president if it wants to."

Modise told the meeting there had been a State of the Nation Address every year since the start of the democratic Parliament in 1994. It brought the three arms of state together under one roof and was an important event for the country. Costs would also be kept to a minimum.

"There will be absolutely no frills – none. The president will walk from his office into the chamber – that’s it."

Modise said that no MP was compelled to attend, and that all safety precautions would be in place.

"That we were saying the maximum is 50 does not mean that we want or will endeavour or plead that all 50 be in the House."

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