State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa
What is the State of the Nation Address (SONA)?
The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is one of the most important annual events in the parliamentary calendar.
- The President delivers a speech focusing on the plans of government for the coming years.
- This speech is delivered to Parliament (during a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
- It is commonly known as “the Opening of Parliament”.
- All the three (3) Arms of the State, namely; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary attend this annual event.
When and where does SONA take place?
SONA takes place in February annually and is scheduled for Thursday, 11 February 2021 at 19h00.
- The National Assembly Chamber is used for the purpose of SONA. This may change due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- It is hosted by both the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
What happens during SONA?
The President uses the occasion to make a speech to the nation as both Head of State and of Government to:
- Set out the governments priorities for the coming years.
- Highlight the achievements and challenges of the previous year.
Why is SONA important?
It grants government (Executive) an opportunity to account to Parliament and the South African public. It is also about celebrating our nation and nation-building.
SONA and Parliament’s oversight function
One of Parliament’s key functions is to monitor and oversee the actions of government.
- The State of the Nation Address forms part of Parliament’s oversight (monitoring) function.
- It does this monitoring to improve service delivery and to achieve a better quality of life for all living in South Africa.
The public’s involvement and participation in SONA
During the State of the Nation Address, the public has an opportunity to be informed about government’s planned priorities for the year ahead. The public can participate more meaningfully in SONA by:
- Voicing their expectations of government by sending recommendations to the President in the lead-up to SONA using the #SONA2021 or our Parliament of RSA Facebook page
- Watching SONA live on Parliament TV (DSTV408).
- Requesting an invitation to virtually attend and observe the SONA debate which happens Thursday, 18 February 2021 after SONA. Access can be arranged through the Public Relations (PR) office, firstname.lastname@example.org
SONA and the Budget
Two weeks after SONA, the Minister of Finance introduces the Budget for the coming year. The budget speech is based on governments priorities set out by the President in his speech.