President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the annual State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday, February 11, 2021, at exactly 19:00.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having undoubtedly rattled the world, Ramaphosa will detail how government plans on navigating this global health crisis. The president’s Sona is expected to touch on a number of key areas for the country and elaborate on government’s plans for the year.
South Africa has recorded 1 482 412 cases of COVID-19, and counting, while more than 47 000 people have succumbed to the respiratory disease. Ramaphosa’s Sona will further elaborate on government’s latest efforts to counter the further spread of the virus, including the vaccination rollout phase. Government is already facing sharp criticism for acquiring the AstraZeneca vaccine, as a study found it was ineffective. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has since said the drug can be used against the new COVID-19 variant.
The extent of rot never fails to make it in the Sona and this year will be no different, particularly a week after an explosive report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) showed how laws and processes were disregarded in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts. The COVID-19 pandemic also gave rise to grand looting, leading the SIU to probe R13 billion worth of PPE tenders. To some extent, strides have been made in fighting graft, as the Hawks have managed to make a number of arrests over the past several months.
Growing the economy and attracting investment
Ramaphosa will also outline the progress made in the implementation of his contentious economic recovery plan. Government recently announced a commitment of R100 billion to support and create over 800 000 employment opportunities over the next three years. This will be done through the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan aimed at steering the country back to desirable growth levels in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, proceedings will be watered down as only a limited number of Parliamentarians will be allowed in the chambers. A total of 30 MPs representing the two Houses of Parliament from various parliamentary political parties, will be physically in the National Assembly, with 14 coming from the ANC, five from the DA, and one each from the IFP, FF+, ACDP, GOOD, COPE, NFP, ATM, AIC and Aljamah-ah.
All other MPs will connect through a virtual platform.
At the same time, Parliament has said it was confident the proceedings will run smoothy.
“Yesterday, the Presiding Officers received a final briefing about Parliament’s preparations to host the 2021 State of the Nation Address from the institution’s SONA Project Team. We are confident that all will proceed smoothly tomorrow for the hosting of the first ever Hybrid State of the Nation Address,” Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
“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.”