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SONA 2023: Pomp and ceremony is back as Ramaphosa to deliver load shedding-free speech

President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa.

  • The stage is set for President Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver the 2023 State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
  • Efforts have also been made for Ramaphosa to deliver his speech without being interrupted by power cuts.
  • Around R8 million has been budgeted for the event.

While many South Africans continue to deal with ongoing power cuts, every effort has been made for President Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver a load shedding-free State of the Nation Address (SONA).

On Tuesday, Parliament’s presiding officers announced its readiness for the 2023 SONA, which will be delivered by Ramaphosa on Thursday.

Secretary to Parliament Xolile George told journalists at a media conference there would be a “minimisation of load shedding” to accommodate SONA.

“Part of our engagement with the City [of Cape Town] in collaboration with Eskom, there will be measures taken to ensure there is no load shedding that will impact on the delivery of SONA, including related precincts. That work is ongoing, including alternative measures to mitigate the likelihood of load shedding impacting the delivery on the SONA,” George said.

On the issue of the budget for SONA, George said around R8 million had been budgeted.

He said:

That takes into account a number of logistics to put together an event of this magnitude and scale. Consistent to the fiscal challenges faced by the country, every attempt is made to minimise the issue of costs. It grows minimally each year.

While R8 million had been budgeted, the final amount of what was actually spent would be consolidated at a later stage.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said this year’s SONA would be in person.

There will be approximately 490 MPs and 10 representatives from the SA Local Government Association. Parliament has invited 263 guests, including former president Thabo Mbeki.

“We can confirm that similar to last year, this year’s proceedings of SONA 2023 will follow the full ceremony format. Activities undertaken and observed during a full ceremony include the Flame Guard, the 21-gun salute, an aircraft fly-past, the lining of the route, the Ceremonial Guard, the Salute of the Step Guard, the singing of the National Anthem, the full Military Band and the ceremonial processions of the Provincial Speakers, Premiers, the Judiciary, the Deputy President and the President,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

READ | WATCH | John Steenhuisen delivers DA’s take on ‘State of the Nation’ address

Mapisa-Nqakula said they were aware of planned protests outside the precinct, adding that appropriate arrangements would be made to receive memoranda where required.

Responding to a question on possible disruptions inside the chamber, National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo said they would be firm and fair to ensure that SONA was not disrupted by rowdy MPs.

In a statement, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) announced that measures had been taken to ensure a safe SONA.

NATJOINTS spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said work had already begun to create a safe environment.

A statement read:

Integrated and joint law enforcement operations are under way, and law enforcement officers have been deployed and are on high alert to ensure that the SONA takes place in a secure environment, with no incidents of crime before, during and post the SONA.

“To this end, NATJOINTS is calling for the cooperation of the public, including those who will be in attendance as well as spectators. Any action aimed at disrupting the SONA or intentionally contravening the law will be dealt with accordingly within the ambit of the law.”

NATJOINTS comprises various government departments, including the South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force and the State Security Agency.

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