Pretoria – Parliament is ready to host the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that will be delivered by President Jacob Zuma next week, Secretary of Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana, said on Monday.
“The SONA is an important event constitutionally and we want to emphasise what the Speaker [Baleka Mbete] said that Parliament is ready to host the SONA. All arrangements have been made,” said Mgidlana.
President Zuma will deliver the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on the evening of 11 February 2016.
The SONA is convened by the President and is graced by the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislative arms of the country. Various sectors of society, including business, diplomats and the public have been invited to witness the event.
Work, said the Secretary of Parliament, has been done to ensure that the joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces goes smoothly.
Mgidlana said the SONA is an important event in the calendar of South Africa as it affords the President an opportunity to put in place the programme of government for the year.
“It’s important to all South Africans from all walks of life. It is a flagship event in the political calendar,” he said, adding that the event also triggers the attention of the African continent and the global arena.
The security levels at the event will be consistent with the level of people attending the event. Security will be provided by the security cluster including the South African Police Service and the military, among others.
Mgidlana said Parliament has been working on strengthening the rules in Parliament so as to improve operations.
The briefing highlighted that Parliament has three sets of rules – namely the rules that govern the proceedings of the National Assembly, rules that govern proceedings in the National Council of Provinces and there are also rules that govern the joint business of Parliament, such as joint committee meetings and joint sittings.
Deputy Secretary to Parliament: Core Business Advocate M E Phindela said: “The Joint Rules govern the proceedings of the joint sittings and those are the rules that are applicable to the SONA.”
He said the rules have been amended by both Houses.
“The two Houses have amended their own rules or are in the process of amending their own rules. The Joint Rules have also been amended. Other parts of the Joint Rules are in the process of being amended,” he explained.
He added that the rules dealing with disruptions have been incorporated into the Joint Rules as a result of the amendment of the Joint Rules.
Parliament will hold a briefing regarding the logistics around SONA soon.