South Africans can look forward to a “unique” State of the Nation Address (SONA) this evening, as the important event is being held against the backdrop of the country preparing to commemorate 30 years of democracy.

This according to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, who was addressing the media in Cape Town on Wednesday.

SONA will be held at the Cape Town City Hall from 7pm.

“This [SONA] is different and unique in so many ways. It is important that it is allowed its own expression and that South Africans can take out of it the celebratory element.  We are marking 30 years of our democratic dispensation. It is also the last SONA under the sixth administration.

“And so what you will have is a reflection of the past 30 years, coupled with an account of the work of the sixth administration over the last five years. It is important you allow those key elements to be expressed as much as possible without adding other issues,” he said.

Magwenya explained that the delivery of SONA is a Constitutional imperative.

“There is a Constitutionally mandated democratic tradition for the President to open Parliament. So it’s not just about the State of the Nation Address; it’s the opening of Parliament. This is something that has been part and parcel of our democratic dispensation since 1994.

“We urge all South Africans to follow the address as it deals with the state of the nation; not the state of only one segment or some segments of the nation. It is the state of all of the nation,” he said.

Having their say

This year’s SONA will be held under the theme: “Following up on our commitments: Making your future work better” and on the streets of South Africa, citizens expressed their views on what they believe the President should take stock of.

Mosito Moshatane from Kliprivier said: “I hope the President will address the issue of human settlements. I think people are living in places that aren’t good because they are desperate [for housing]. The queues are too long for them to be waiting”.

Nicardo Nell from Upington said: “This year I think it’s very important for us… to listen to the SONA because I think it will give us hope and direction.”

Prudence Faku said: “It is important that the President addresses the issues that we have, so that we know what the plans are going forward; what the problems are and how we can tackle those issues.”

Local is lekker

During a media briefing held by Parliament’s Presiding Officers this week, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the holding of SONA has a greater impact beyond the walls of the Cape Town City Hall.

She said Parliament, together with Proudly South African, have come together to encourage guests and Members of Parliament to walk down the red carpet in garments produced by local designers.

“The campaign aims to increase appreciation and visibility for local designers and their creations, and to provide momentum for the growth of the fashion business. This initiative goes beyond mere fashion appreciation; it seeks to connect consumers with the rich stories, culture, and creativity inherent in South African fashion, thereby fostering a sense of pride in local craftsmanship.

“This partnership has far-reaching implications for the country’s economy and the fashion industry. Encouraging public representatives and guests to don local designs sends a powerful message of support for local business, which is crucial for economic growth, job creation, and addressing issues of inequality and poverty.

“This collaboration between Parliament and Proudly South African is not only a celebration of South African talent but also a step towards sustainable development, economic empowerment, and a more responsible fashion industry,” she said.

The local economy is also expected to receive a boost.

“SONA significantly boosts the local economy by attracting increased tourism, media presence, and business activities to the city.

“This influx of visitors and heightened economic activity during the SONA period contributes to job creation and increased revenue for local businesses, including hospitality, transportation, and retail sectors,” she said.

The Speaker encouraged South Africans to have their say on SONA.

“We encourage all South Africans to actively participate in SONA by tuning in and expressing their views across the various communication platforms provided by Parliament, government and mainstream media,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

SONA will be broadcast live on Parliament TV, mainstream broadcasters, and streaming services, ensuring comprehensive access and engagement for everyone across the nation.

“Let us come together as a nation to witness, discuss and reflect on the state of our nation, as we continue to build a more inclusive, prosperous, and resilient South Africa,” Mapisa-Nqakula said. –

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