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Photo: South African Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: PhilippN / Wikimedia Commons

SONA 2020 details: When, where, why and how to watch

Put on your glad-rags an hit the red carpet. SONA 2020 is on the horizon, and we’ve got everything you need to know about the glamorous affair here.

coronavirus parliament

Photo: South African Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: PhilippN / Wikimedia Commons

It’s almost that time of year again: Sona 2020 – or President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address – will take place next week. The glitzy affair comes with a red carpet display and a military parade, before the president details what his plans are for the year ahead. It looks like the next 12 months could be increasingly arduous.

We’ve got the celeb factor, the best of our politicians and a very real chance of interruptions and conflict. There’s no better soap opera than a lively SONA – and here’s what you should know about the upcoming event.

State of the Nation Address 2020:

When does it start?

It will be held on Thursday 13 February at 19:00. If you’re one for the showbiz and celebrity side of things, all the red carpet build-up will begin from just after 17:00. We then have the military parades and 21-gun salutes from 18:30, before Cyril Ramaphosa tells South Africa about his plans for the year ahead.

It’s estimated things will wind down about 21:00 – but be warned, we already know the EFF want to cause a bit of chaos: They are unhappy with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, and plan to take a stand against him. The Red Berets have been unusually quiet in the last few Sonas, and they’re due a performance.

Where is SONA 2020 being held?

It’s held at the Parliament Buildings in Cape Town (at 21 Plein Street), as per annual tradition. For anyone who lives in or commutes to and from the Mother City, there will be a long list of road closures for the event. We will be publishing a full list of these no later than 24 hours before SONA 2020 kicks off.

Why do we have SONA, and what are the reasons to watch it?

It marks the official opening of Parliament for the new year, after a long Christmas recess. The sitting president will talk about policy, what their administration aims to achieve over the next calendar year and how they plan to deal with challenges ahead. SONA 2018 marked Cyril Ramaphosa’s first address of this kind, which went relatively smoothly.

One doubts the same luxuries will be afforded to the president next week, though. Not much has changed since he took office two years ago, with a flat economy and a stagnant jobs market reflecting badly on his performance. However, there are some bloody good reasons for you to tune in this year…

  • The potential for a brawl is high. Fireworks are expected in the halls of Parliament.
  • Cyril is a good entertainer and his speeches often come with a few cutaway jokes or funny anecdotes.
  • This is a very, very important SONA for us all. It’s vital to understand how the president is spending our cash.
  • The knives are out for Ramaphosa and he won’t get an easy ride. Zuma-levels of chaos could be on the cards.
  • We’ve checked and there’s really not much else on the TV next Thursday. Go on. Treat yourself to this…

How to watch SONA 2020 on TV and via a live stream

You will be able to catch SONA on several different broadcast networks: Both eNCA and SABC will be showing rolling coverage and build up to the event on their news channels from just after 17:00. Elsewhere, SABC 2 will screen coverage from 18:00 onwards, making SONA 2020 free-to-view.

Can’t get to a TV? That’s no stress. Both aforementioned outlets will have a live stream out online before it all kicks off. You can also follow events as they happen via Parliament’s YouTube channel. If you’re still unable to watch it all unfold, we’ve got your backs – we’ll be live-blogging it all on Thursday, too.