On the 09 February at approximately 19:00, Jacob Zuma will commence his annual song and dance in which he will convey to the country what the state of our nation is. The President’s speech is special for many reasons, some of which I’m not brave enough to state here, but a prominent one is that it marks the official start of the Parliamentary year where Members of Parliament (MP’s) act as our voices, speak on our behalf and fight the fight for the people.
The opening of Parliament is attended by both houses (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces) and the pomp and ceremony begins with MP’s parading their fabulous ensembles down the red carpet.
Although attending a Parliamentary Committee meeting can be (at times) boring, the opening of Parliament over the years has proven to be anything but boring. Let’s face it, Parliamentary proceedings have been spiced up by the introduction of new political parties who have continuously challenged the decorum and status quo in the house. According to news reports, well over 2 million South Africans tuned in to watch SONA 2016, while on Twitter #SONA2016 averaged 30 tweets per second.
The popularity of the event has undoubtedly grown over the years, and this year is deemed to be one of the most pressing addresses since Thabo Mbeki was overthrown by our current President in 2008.
I’m not one to convince people to do things they don’t want to do, but here’s 10 reasons why you should tune into #SONA2017 with the rest of the country on the 09 February.
1. 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 plan for the people of South Africa.
2. The speech is important because it makes us aware of what government is doing, everyone can become involved and also take part in government’s plan to build a better life for all, informing the citizenry about the National Youth Plan and the 9 Point Plan.
3. The President will address pertinent issues facing the youth like education, job creation, infrastructure development and youth unemployment while hopefully offering solutions to the issues currently plaguing the nation.
4. If you don’t follow what government has achieved or failed at throughout the year, the State of the Nation Address is a good way to “catch-up” and get an overview of government’s efforts and plans.
5. The greatest feature of SONA is seeing democracy in action-when opposing parties practise their democratic right to exit the sitting, that my friend is (sometimes) worth watching.
6. The State of the Nation Address is directly linked to the Budget Speech, it gives us a good indication of where our money as tax payers will be going.
7. Skills development programmes are critical for the development of the youth, in the SONA, the President will highlight new programmes you can get involved in, old programmes seeing success and innovative programmes yet to be implemented.
8. SONA is also the opportunity for the President to boast about the good things happening in the country, after all we need to celebrate our successes as well.
9. We as the youth need to understand what future we are going to inherit, what will that future look like, how will government ensure an equal future for all? SONA is the roadmap to finding the answers to these questions.
10. If you’re not interested in the plan for the country, then you’re not allowed to complain. So watch SONA, and you’re given a free pass to complain