The Week Ahead: It’s all about #SONA2018
On Thursday, all eyes will be fixated on Parliament for the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The speech, due to be delivered at 19:00 before a combined gathering of Parliament, Cabinet, the Judiciary and the public, will seek to build on the governing party’s January 8th Statement.
The occasion is steeped in tradition and includes a red carpet procession, a 21-gun salute and an Air Force flypast.
Don’t expect inspirational and soaring rhetoric: the speech is usually a laundry list of priorities, targets and plans for the forthcoming year and beyond. Persistent unemployment and inequality, a weakened and untransformed economy, problems weighing down state-owned companies and the need to accelerate land reform are some of the major themes that are likely to feature in the speech. In addition, there are usually 1 or 2 surprise policy announcements.
The biggest talking point however is that we could be heading to another confrontation on Thursday. Last week opposition parties tried to get SONA postponed until after President Zuma is removed from office but this proposal was rejected by the presiding officers. Meanwhile, the EFF has promised to take action if President Zuma delivers the speech. Disruptions, heckling and walk outs have marred previous addresses. All signs point to history repeating itself.
The entire precinct will be abuzz with preparations as construction and cleaning crews do last minute touch ups, security personnel do their drills and those participating in the parade undertake rehearsals. The perimeter outside the legislature will also be impacted by road closures.
As the President (or someone else) steps up to the dais, he will know that there are a lot of expectations (or not in some quarters) and that the public and financial markets will be watching the speech closely.
Watch the 2017 SONA here
Despite the scant two-day schedule, there are several interesting meetings lurking in the Committee corridor this week. Here is a breakdown:
-Serious concerns have been raised around rail safety in the wake of recent deadly train crashes in the country. On Tuesday, the Portfolio Committee on Transport will meet with stakeholders to discuss this and the emergency safety plan at Metrorail.
-On the same day, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will address lawmakers on departmental issues; ICASA and the Films and Publication Board will present on the suspensions and removals of their respective CEOs and there will be a roundtable discussion with Provincial Education Departments on Indicators and Targets.
-On Wednesday, the Portfolio Committee on Social Development will get a progress report from SASSA on the implementation of the Constitutional Court order.
-Elsewhere, the NCOP has scheduled a two-day mid-term review.
View the full schedule here.
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.