For the second time in four months, we are all heading to Parliament for all the pomp and ceremony that comes from a State of the Nation Address. The second part of SONA 2019 is upon us, as the sixth Parliament of South Africa officially gets underway for its five-year stint.
Why we are having a second SONA 2019
SONA – or, the State of the Nation Address – will be delivered by Cyril Ramaphosa, just as it was back February. The reason we’ve got another one so soon is due to the changes in Parliament we’ve seen following the 2019 Elections. Since the president’s previous address, the ANC have lost 19 MPs, and these aren’t the only alterations.
The EFF have almost doubled the number of MPs they have, whereas the Freedom Front Plus tripled their representation. The DA are also five members light going into the sixth term of Parliament and contend with the fact that their bitter adversary Patricia de Lille has scored a seat not just in Parliament, but as a government minister.
Running order: What time does SONA 2019 begin?
The event is split into three sections: The red carpet, the state ceremony, and Cyril Ramaphosa’s big speech itself. From start to finish, the whole event should take between 3 – 4 hours. Here’s how it breaks down.
The Red Carpet Event: 17:00 – 18:30
This glitzy affair begins from 17:00, when glammed-up politicians and celebrity figures catwalk into Parliament on the hallowed material. It’s the most casual aspect of the evening, as viewers and the media get to fawn over the most outlandish fashion choices and pre-SONA statements from the esteemed guests.
The State Ceremony: 18:30 – 19:00
Here’s where we see soldiers and Parliamentary guards strut their stuff. A procession of SANDF members and a brass band will welcome the president’s arrival with all the fanfare we’ve come to expect, including a 21-gun salute and an SA Airforce flyover – that, Capetonians, is why you’ve been hearing jets wooshing above the city this week.
Time of the SONA 2019 speech: 19:00 – 21:00
And, the main event: We’re expecting Cyril to get down to business from 19:00 on the dot. He was extremely punctual in February and didn’t keep anyone waiting, but with an increased threat of EFF disruption on the horizon, things could be different this time out. The president’s speech should last for just over an hour and a half.
How to watch SONA 2019 live
National broadcasters eNCA and SABC will be showing all of the build-up and the speech itself from 17:00 onwards, on DStv channels 403 and 404 respectively. However, if you can’t get to a TV, they will also be providing a stream. If you’re not in a position to watch the coverage, follow our live blog from Parliament (to appear on the site from 17:00).