SA Parliament prepares to host State of the Nation Address

By Vivian Warby

Parliament - Parliament is looking forward to hosting President Jacob Zuma next Wednesday when delivers his State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

"The effort which has already gone into our preparation for this event bears testimony to our sense of anticipation. We are looking forward to hosting it," said Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu, during a press briefing on Thursday.

He said it was a momentous occasion which every South African was looking forward to. "We, as Parliament, are no exception to this."

Mr Sisulu said the newly established fourth Parliament had had to hit the ground running in making preparations for the State of the Nation Address on 3 June.

Invited guests, former Presidents and Deputy Presidents, former Presiding Officers of Parliament, the Judiciary, Cabinet Ministers, Heads of Government Departments, Members of Parliament and many more will descend on Parliament on the day.

Former President Nelson Mandela has indicated that he would like to attend but this would depend on his health. "We would love him to be there, but we would understand if he can't," said Mr Sisulu.

This State of the Nation Address is more anticipated than most because South Africa's new President, as the head of the new administration, will outline a fresh Programme of Action for government for the next five years.

"This is an occasion when the President addresses the nation in his capacity as Head of State, taking stock of South Africa's domestic and foreign situation and uniting the nation around a common understanding of the direction in which the country should be moving," explained Mr Sisulu.

He said it was also one of the rare occasions when the three arms of the state, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature, come together under one roof.

"It is an occasion like no other and the first State of the Nation Address will be as involved, as intense and as full a ceremonial affair as they all have been," said Mr Sisulu.

Apart from the high-fashion that colours the event, the day will be filled with tradition.

The South African Defence Force will line the streets to welcome the President as he arrives, while a national salute will be performed by the Ceremonial Guard. There will also be a fly-past by the South African Air Force and a 21-gun salute.

The President's address will be broadcast live on SABC 2, community radio stations and on big screens in all provinces. It will also be available through live streaming on - BuaNews