SONA 2022: Parliament ready for ‘safe and secure’ Address at new venue

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The State of the Nation Address (SONA) – and its associated activities – will take place outside of the Parliamentary precinct for the first time since the dawn of democracy in South Africa.

Parliament’s Presiding Officers and the nation’s security cluster are sure proceedings will run smoothly on the big day – Thursday, 10 February – they said, at a press briefing.

PARLIAMENT READY FOR SONA 2022

The National Assembly, along with large sections of the precinct, was burnt beyond recognition in a devastating fire at the start of 2022.

The Presiding Officers were determined that their work would continue and insisted that the scheduled date of the Address would be kept despite calls for postponement, cancellation and even the relocation of Parliament.

The City of Cape Town’s City Hall was declared a precinct of Parliament – from 31 January until 16 February 2022 – and all the laws and rules that usually apply to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) are transferred to it.

During this period, the City Hall will host the Address on the 10th, the parliamentary debate on the speech on the 14th and 15th and Ramaphosa’s reply to the debate on the 16th.

“As the Presiding Officers of Parliament, we continue to be highly concerned by the torching of state buildings, including our Parliament.

“We have been in discussion with the SAPS to ensure that this Hall is secured. We are confident that all safety and security measures will be intensified to ensure our national heritage and other critical infrastructure across the country is secured,” said the Officers on Tuesday.

NATJOINTS ON HIGH ALERT

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) – made up of the police, SANDF and SSA – are tasked with ensuring the security of SONA 2022.

SAPS spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said the country’s security forces are on high alert to ensure the Address takes place in a secure environment “before, during and post” the event.

“Any action aimed at disrupting the SONA or intentionally contravening the law, will be dealt with accordingly within the ambit of the law,” said Mathe.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sent out a notice to all airmen (NOTAM), which warned that the airspace within 1,5 nautical miles of the City Hall is a no-fly zone on 10 February between 13:00 and 00:00. The same restrictions apply to drones.

However, the South African Air Force (SAAF) will be able to use the airspace during this period if need be.

“Residents of Cape Town, spectators and those who are operating businesses in the vicinity of the Cape Town City Hall are advised about road closures ahead of the delivery of the President’s State of the Nation Address,” said the police spokesperson.

The road closures can be found here – SONA 2022: Heads up! These streets will be closed.

The traders that usually sell their wares near the City Hall on the Grand Parade and other nearby streets will also be affected by the proceedings from 9 to 16 February, according to Parliament. However, trading – as per usual – will be allowed over the weekend of 11 and 12 February between 12:00 and 15:00.

“To this end, the City of Cape Town has provided Harrington Square, the Company Gardens and Heritage Square as the alternative trading venues,” said Parliament.

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