Fri, 22 Nov 2019

Parliament is ready to, once again, host President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA), with former president Jacob Zuma likely to miss the auspicious occasion.

Parliament's presiding officers had a walkabout tour of the parliamentary precinct on Wednesday ahead of the big joint sitting on Thursday.

News24 previously reported that the event will be scaled down due to financial considerations.

Some, however, did not welcome the exclusion of one uniquely African feature of the proceedings.

A statement released by Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo says: "We had also planned to not have an imbongi to welcome the President into the National Assembly Chamber before he delivers the State of the Nation Address.

"However, following the concerns from several groupings about this, the matter is being reconsidered."

Speaking to News24, Mothapo said "the decision not to have (an) imbongi is being reconsidered, and a decision will be communicated".

Zuma absent from confirmed guests list

There are 1 200 guests expected to attend the proceedings.

Among them will be Rivonia trialists, struggle stalwarts, leaders of the women's march of 1956, justices of the Constitutional Court, former presidents, and leaders of liberation movements.

Among the former presidents and first ladies to confirm attendance are Mr and Mrs Mbeki and Mr and Mrs Motlanthe. Notably absent from the list is Ramaphosa's immediate predecessor, former president Jacob Zuma.

Zuma was also absent from Ramaphosa's inauguration.

The event will kick off at 17:00, with guests and members of the diplomatic corps walking down the red carpet along Parliament Street, from the gates of the National Assembly building to the building itself.

Processions of the judiciary, premiers of the provinces and speakers of provincial legislatures will start at roughly 18:30.

The president will then arrive and, after being saluted, the national anthem will play followed by a 21-gun slate and a fighter jet flyby.

The president, presiding officers and parliamentary officials will then make their way into the National Assembly Chamber where the president will deliver his State of the Nation Address to the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces at 19:00.

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