Parly says all systems go for first-ever hybrid Sona

President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead a candle-lighting ceremony with National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Amos Masonda before he takes to the podium at 7 pm.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a joint sitting of Parliament on 15 October 2020. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament on Wednesday said it was confident everything would run smoothly during Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).

President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead a candle-lighting ceremony with National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo before he takes to the podium at 7 pm.

The ceremony will be in remembrance of all the lives lost due to COVID-19.

While roads around Parliament will be closed off, security inside the precinct will be minimal as only 50 people will be physically present in the chamber, while the rest will connect online.

This will be the first State of the Nation Address to take place without its usual trappings of red carpet, processions and military flypasts, and it is likely to be a sombre, dignified affair.

Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said it was all systems go: “Yesterday, the presiding officers received a final briefing about Parliament’s preparations to host the 2021 State of the Nation Address from the institution’s Sona project team. We are confident that all will proceed smoothly tomorrow for the hosting of the first-ever hybrid Sona.”

Of the 50 people allowed in the chamber, 30 will be members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. Deputy President David Mabuza will be there, and so will Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the Supreme Court of Appeal’s Justice Dumisani Zondi to represent the judiciary.

Guests and dignitaries who will join online include former President Thabo Mbeki, former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Speaker Baleka Mbete and former NCOP chairperson Mninwa Mahlangu.

The webinar can link up to 1,000 people, but there will be no points of order on the night the - stage be President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alone.

Parties will debate his speech on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, and Ramaphosa will reply to the debate next Thursday.

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