State of the Nation address to be held in historical Cape Town City Hall

The 2022 State of the Nation address (Sona) will be hosted at the Cape Town City Hall, where former president Nelson Mandela addressed the nation for the first time after his release from prison in 1990, parliament announced on Friday.

A fire at the parliament precinct, which burned the national assembly and parts of the old assembly, means President Cyril Ramaphosa will not be able to deliver the annual Sona at its usual venue, but parliament’s presiding officers are determined to stick to the 10 February date set for the event.

“The extensive damage has necessitated the institution to find an alternative venue off-site to host this important event in the parliamentary calendar and the country,” parliament said in a statement. 

The Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape Town had offered the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the City Council Chambers and City Hall for parliament to continue its work after the fire. Presiding officers decided on City Hall for its technical and historical significance. 

“The City Hall was considered a suitable venue technically in terms of infrastructure and its capacity. It is also a befitting place considering its historical significance which is embedded in the minds and hearts of South Africans,” parliament’s statement said.

Aside from his freedom speech in 1990, Mandela also appeared on the City Hall balcony after his election in the national assembly as South Africa’s first democratically-elected president in 1994.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation from the City Hall, 32 years since that historic occasion in 1990,” parliament said on Friday. It said its decision to host Sona outside the national assembly was taken “in compliance with the joint rules of parliament that determine where a joint sitting may be held”.

Rule 2 of the joint rules, together with section 2 of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, allows the speaker of the national assembly and chairperson of the national council of provinces to make a joint decision on where a joint sitting of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary can be held. 

“We will rise from these ashes and rebuild, restore, renew and march forward in our continuous endeavour to build a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous society [to which] we all aspire,” parliament said on Friday.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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