By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his fourth annual State of the Nation Address tonight at 19h00.
Far removed from the 'pomp and prestige' of previous addresses, the 2021 SONA will roll up the red carpet and move to a mostly virtual environment.
Measures are in place to ensure wide public access to the SONA, while observing necessary Covid-19 protocols.
The sitting will be hybrid, with limited numbers of Members of Parliament (MPs), distinguished guests and media in the National Assembly (NA) Chamber and others linking up through virtual platforms.
A total of 30 Members of Parliament representing the two Houses of Parliament from various parliamentary political parties will be physically in the NA Chamber. The parties that will be present include the ANC, DA, IFP, FF+, ACDP, GOOD, Cope, NFP, ATM, AIC and Aljamah-ah. The EFF will not be physically present.
The president will also be in the chamber when he delivers the address. Other MP’s will connect through a virtual platform.
Various categories of guests, including members of the public, who cannot be accommodated in the chamber, or precinct, will link up through a webinar that has a capacity for 1,000 guests. The platform will be non-interactive, with no chat capabilities.
Ramaphosa’s address will be far-removed from the hopeful tone delivered in 2020, where the president promised to tackle inclusive economic growth and government corruption.
A month after the 2020 speech, the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in South Africa, forcing the government to take action – which included declaring a state of disaster and implementing a nationwide shutdown.
Not only did shutting down most of the country’s economy have wide-reaching destructive effects on the economy – resulting in record job losses and declines in GDP – but hastily-drawn-up procurement policies around Covid-related procurement also opened the door to wide-spread looting by officials and government departments.
South Africa’s ongoing problems around failing state companies requiring bailouts, and persistent power supply issues and load shedding has also persisted. The 12-month period culminated in an 11th-hour race to procure Covid vaccines, and, most recently, a sharp pivot in rollout plans.
Livestream Video Below:
Video Courtesy of ENCA.