From Mandela to... who? Postponement is Sona's first blip since 1994

06 February 2018 - 15:34 By Timeslive
President Nelson Mandela takes the salute outside parliament at the historic first session of the democratic parliament in 1994.
President Nelson Mandela takes the salute outside parliament at the historic first session of the democratic parliament in 1994.
Image: Gallo Images/Oryx Media Archive/Benny Gool

President Nelson Mandela delivered the first state of the nation address (Sona) on May 24‚ 1994.

He began by saying: “The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons‚ the daughters‚ the mothers‚ the fathers‚ the youth and the children who‚ by their thoughts and deeds‚ gave us the right to assert with pride that we are South Africans‚ that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world.”

Since then there have been annual addresses at the opening of Parliament‚ and election years have each produced two Sonas — one at the opening of Parliament in February and one after the vote.

In 1999‚ at the end of his term as president‚ Mandela ended his address: “We shall take not just small steps‚ but giant leaps to a bright future in a new millennium. As we confounded the prophets of doom‚ we shall defy today's merchants of cynicism and despair. We shall ... fully dismantle apartheid and achieve true reconciliation. Our hopes will become reality.

“The foundation has been laid — the building is in progress. With a new generation of leaders and a people that rolls up its sleeves in partnerships for change‚ we can and shall build the country of our dreams.”

Thabo Mbeki delivered his first Sona in June 25‚ 1999‚ beginning: “We are on course. Steadily‚ the dark clouds of despair are lifting‚ giving way to our season of hope. Our country which‚ for centuries‚ has bled from a thousand wounds is progressing towards its healing.”

Mbeki also delivered two Sonas in 2004‚ and in 2009 Kgalema Motlanthe gave the February speech.

President Jacob Zuma delivered the first of his 10 Sonas on June 3‚ 2009. His last speech‚ on February 9‚ 2017‚ ended: “Compatriots‚ let us unite in driving radical economic transformation for the good of our country.

“In the words of President [Oliver] Tambo‚ ‘Working together as fellow South Africans‚ we have it within our power to transform this country into the land of plenty for all‚ where the nightmare of apartheid will just be a faint memory of the past’.”

The 2018 State of the Nation Address has been postponed.


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