SONA 2021 date, start time, how to watch: All the details

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/SA Gov News

SONA 2021 (State of the Nation Address) is around the corner and if you’re looking for details such as date, start time and how to watch, you’re in the right place.

SONA is an annual address delivered by the President to a joint sitting of Parliament outlining his plans for the year. The President usually makes key policy pronouncements during his address.

SONA 2021 date and start time

This year’s SONA will be held on Thursday, 11 February 2021 and will start at 7pm (19h00). Usually, there is an elaborate buildup complete with red carpets, military parade and 21-gun salute.

However, South Africa is currently gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic and is under an adjusted alert level 3, which places restrictions on the size of gatherings.

Hybrid sitting of Parliament

To comply with National State of Disaster’s adjusted alert level 3 regulations, SONA 2021 will be held as a hybrid joint sitting of Parliament.

This means that a maximum of 50 MPs, members of the Executive (including the President) and representatives of the Judiciary will be physically present at Parliament. The rest will join the proceedings virtually.

Invited guests, such as Premiers, speakers of provincial legislatures, eminent persons and diplomats, will also join SONA virtually.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will physically deliver SONA in Parliament. This will be his fifth State of the Nation Address since being elected President for the first time in 2018.

Changes to SONA 2021 South Africa

As mentioned above, SONA 2021 South Africa will be a hybrid joint sitting of Parliament unlike in prrevious years. In addition, nearly all ceremonial events will not be observed this year.

There will be no red carpet and no procession of the three arms of the state. The usual junior and civil guard of honour will also not be held.

This year, there will be no Imbongi (traditional praise singer), military parade, presidential procession, guard of honour by the National Ceremonial Guard and the 21-gun salute. 

“Where possible and appropriate, some of these traditional features shall take place virtually in keeping with the significance and character of the Address,” National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said during a media briefing in January.

How to watch SONA 2021 live

South Africa’s main news TV channels, namely SABC News (DStv 404), eNCA (DStv 403) and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) will broadcast the event live. Although Ramaphosa’s address will start at 7pm, the news channels are likely to air buildup shows starting at least one hour beforehand.

These channels are also likely to livestream SONA 2021 on their respective YouTube channels as follows: SABC News, eNCA and Newzroom Afrika. Parliament also has its own YouTube channel, which can be accessed here, and Parliament TV on DStv 408.

The theme for this year’s State of the Nation Address is: “Following up on our commitments: making your future work better.”

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