The Week Ahead: It’s all about SONA 2021
On Thursday, all eyes will be fixated on Parliament for the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
It’s one of the most important speeches that the President delivers in any year. With a prime time tv audience, it is a tremendous PR opportunity for the President to give a report on the economic and social state of the nation, and lay out his administration’s priorities for the current year.
The devastating effect of COVID-19, government’s dwindling finances, persistent unemployment and inequality, a weakened and untransformed economy, corruption and problems weighing down state-owned companies are some of the major challenges facing the country. The President is expected to address these issues and could also make one or two surprise policy announcements.
The format will differ from previous years due to COVID. No more than 50 Members of Parliament, representatives from the Judiciary and the Executive will be in the chamber while everyone else will connect virtually.
Various ceremonial aspects that characterise SONA will be done away with: there will be no red carpet and procession of the three arms of the state, physical participation of junior and civil guard of honour, eminent persons, Imbongi, military parade that leads the presidential procession onto a saluting dais on the steps of the National Assembly, the guard of honour by the National Ceremonial Guard and the 21-gun salute.
The speech is the result of collaboration among a large number of officials in the government - including policy advisors, researchers and speech writers – and outside advisors and thinkers. Traditionally, the Forum of Director-Generals, the ANC's January 8th Statement, NEC Lekgotla and the Cabinet Lekgotla play a central role in shaping the speech.
The target audience consists of different constituencies, such as MPs, citizens, trade unions, business leaders, foreign investors, foreign governments and credit rating agencies.
Violence, disruptions and walk-outs have marred addresses in recent years. The presiding officers were tested and a hybrid format will bring a unique challenge. Asked about the potential for disruptions, the Speaker expressed confidence that Parliament’s rules were sufficient to manage any potential disruption of SONA.
As the President steps up to the dais, he will know that there are a lot of expectations and that the public and financial markets will be watching the speech closely.
The next installment of the virtual Women Charter Review Session will take place on Friday in Ehlanzeni District Municipality.
Meanwhile, there are several interesting meetings scheduled in the committee corridor. Here is a run down:
Tuesday, 9 February 2021
Select Committee on Finance, (National Council of Provinces), [Consideration of public submissions on Audit Profession Amendment Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00
Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on progress registered on the release of state land for agricultural purposes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 17:00-18:00
Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Department of Home Affairs on their preparations and readiness to open the Ports of Entry; Progress update by the Minister of Home Affairs on the development of the policy and the development of the legislation to amend the Electoral Act to allow independent candidates to participate in the National and Provincial Elections; Briefing by Hon. M Lekota on the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B34 – 2020], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, (National Assembly), [Consideration and adoption of Draft Minutes and Draft Report; Briefing by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on: Updated Status on NSC Examination Marking; Trends in International Mathematical and Science Study (TIMSS) Report], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-12:30
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Portfolio Committee on Transport, (National Assembly), [Deliberations on the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill [B 1 – 2020]; Consideration of submissions on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill [B 7 – 2020] and confirmation of dates of public hearings on the Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, (National Assembly), [Update by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on the adherence of Covid-19 regulations and protocols; Update by the Minerals Council of SA (MINCOSA) on the adherence of COVID-19 regulations and protocols, including possible initiatives relating to the roll-out of vaccines in the sector; Tabling of referrals from the Office of the Speaker; Reviewal of committee programme for the 1st term], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on the audit outcomes of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Annual Report 2019/20; Briefing by NSFAS on Annual Report 2019/20], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Standing Committee on Finance, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the AG on Audit findings and briefing by National Treasury on their annual report], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-11:00; 11:00-14:00
Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, (National Assembly), [Consideration of the NCOP amendments to Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill [B19D-2018]; Adoption of Committee minutes; Consideration of the NCOP amendments to the Customary Initiation Bill [B21D-2018]], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-17:00
Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Report by the Parliamentary Legal Services on GBV Bills; Briefing on NCOP amendment: Traditional Courts Bill; Briefing on NCOP amendments: Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Briefing by SIU regarding the outcomes of investigations into allegations on the Covid19 PPE procurement by state institutions proclamation R23 of 2020], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, (National Assembly), [Briefing by Department of Defence and Armscor on how government can support the financial sustainability of Denel; Consideration and adoption of draft minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00
Friday, 12 February 2021
Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, (National Assembly), [Briefing by Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) on governance and other related matters], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Adoption of BRRR; Meeting with Legal Aid South Africa to deal with allegations aired on ENCA Checkpoint episode], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30
Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the Executive as they conduct their oversight work?
We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here.
View the full schedule here
*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day
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