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What will SoNA bring?

By Staff Writer
Let the games begin: President Jacob Zuma is set to take centre stage (Julius Malema permitting) at the 2015 State of the National Address (SoNA) on Thursday, 12 February 2015.
 
In the run up to SoNA there has been much mudslinging, and political antics and while this is good publicity for some it has left voters wondering whether any of this grandstanding is beneficial to them.
 
SoNA involves the President talking about government's achievements of the past year and looks to the future by presenting a programme for the coming year.
 
Many South Africans from have given their opinions on what the President should focus on during his speech. Social media has lit up with #PayBackTheMoney selfies, and general suggestions for topics for SoNA.
 
And, not surprisingly, opposition parties have also added their comments and views. The Economic Freedom Fighter's leader, Julius Malema, has been particularly inflammatory and provocative with his statements toward President Zuma and has been relentless in asking him to pay back some of the money spent on his Nkandla home.
 
His party has a clock on its website counting down the time till SoNA begins with the slogan #PayBackTheMoney .
 
In an effort to keep the peace before SoNA, the National Religious Leaders Council (NRLC) tried to mediate with all the parties to try and find a solution to the developments in parliament.
 
"The EFF welcomed and partook in the mediation process led by the NRLC because we are convinced that in areas where the major political parties could not find each other on vital issues of national interest, we could always look up to religious leadership for guidance," said Mbuyiseni Guintin Ndlozi, the national spokesperson for the EFF.
 
Though, it seems that, to many, SoNA is still going to be eventful.
 
Democratic Alliance
 
The Democratic Alliance (DA) feels that the President must be held accountable for his actions, as well as show the true state of the nation and how to fix it.
 
"Parliament must perform its constitutional role, and the President must be held accountable for the true state of nation. The African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighter's (EFF) trading of threats of disruption and heavy-handed policing are making a mockery of this institution," said Mmusi Maimane, deputy federal chairperson of the DA in a statement.
 
Maimane warned that if the National Assembly descends into chaos on Thursday, it will be a national embarrassment.
 
Taking responsibility
 
President Zuma is a deeply compromised man, said Maimane, but he must still account to Parliament, and to South Africans, for the state of our nation.
 
"And make no mistake he must account for his wrongs as well, which is why the DA has fought so hard for the imminent court date to review the dropping of 700 plus corruption counts against the President," he said.
 
Maimane emphasised that this state of the nation is about the real issues of concern to South Africans.
 
Through social media expert commentators have called for many pertinent issues to be addressed at SoNA, including rolling black outs, to the state of the education system, paying back the [Nkandla] money, and even the resignation of President Zuma.
 
SoNA trending
 
It appears though that government is welcoming feedback regarding the SoNA. The Presidency took to Twitter and asked people what key points they would like to have discussed on Thursday.
 
Many tweeted back wanting President Zuma to resign, some wanted to know when the money would be paid back for Nkandla, and others were more concerned as to when weed would be legalised in South Africa.
 
@Don_Puza said that he hoped Zuma won't start SoNA by recapping the struggle, apartheid, and the past, but to rather talk about solutions to the country's problems.
 
Whereas @Nick_Hamman was more sceptical of SoNA, tweeting: "Let's be real. No one really thinks that anything unexpected/ground-breaking is going to be said at #SONA2015 do they?"
 
Others commented about the country's electricity and education problems.
 
The proceedings
 
The SoNA is broken down into three parts. The first is public participation when the Civil Guard of Honour welcomes the President and his guests as they walk along the red carpet.
 
This is followed by a state ceremony which includes a 21-gun salute, an Air Force flypast and the much-anticipated address by the President.
 
The third part – the speech - sets out government's plans to address various key government programmes.
 
"The State of the Nation Address is important for all South Africans because it tells us what government's Programme of Action is for the year ahead. The Programme of Action is government's plans for the country and people of South Africa," said the Presidency in a statement.
 
The Presidency added that awareness of government's activities help the nation to come together, and be more involved.
 
There will be live viewing of the event at various locations around the country. Also, SoNA will be broadcast by SABC, e.tv and various radio stations.
 

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