The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is an annual address given by the South African President to a joint session of Parliament. The address serves as a report on the economic and social state of the nation. It provides an update on the progress of priority activities for the previous year and informs the country of the identified priorities that will be addressed by government in the upcoming year.
The SONA provides an opportunity for all three arms of the state to be in the same place, as specified by Rule 7(1)(a) of the Joint Rules of Parliament.
On 09 February 2023, at 19h00, President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver South Africa’s 2023 SONA. This will be broadcast on SABC Radio, SABC TV, and various other news broadcasting channels, as well as Parliament TV. For the second consecutive year, the address will take place at the Cape Town City Hall due to ongoing repairs of the National Assembly Chamber.
The theme for the 2023 SONA is “Following up on our commitments: making your future work better”, which aligns with the theme of the Sixth Parliament.
A budget set at R8 million is reserved for the 2023 SAONA. It covers the related SONA debates and the President’s Reply, as well as the delivery of the Budget on 22 February. The debate on the State of the Nation Address will take place on 14 and 15 February, with the President’s reply on 16 February.
Key guests attending the SONA include all approximately 400 National Assembly MPs and 90 NCOP delegates, as well as representatives from other arms of state, provincial premiers, dignitaries, and media. The dignitaries invited include former Presidents, former Presiding Officers, the SADC-PF President, the Pan-African Parliament President, and others.
The proceedings of the 2023 SONA will follow the full ceremony format, which includes activities such as the Flame Guard, 21-gun salute, aircraft flypast, and ceremonial processions. The official language of the SONA will be isiZulu, and an imbongi from the KwaZulu-Natal province will be part of the procession when the President enters the Cape Town City Hall.
The State of the Nation Address is an important event in South Africa, providing the President with an opportunity to report on the state of the nation and outline his plans and vision for the future. Sabinet will be in attendance at the SONA and will share real-time updates and a summary of key outtakes from the address on its various platforms. We urge all South Africans to follow the address and to comment on matters of interest. It is, after all, through vigorous and candid discussion that our democracy will continue to flourish.