Mbeki will attend state of the nation address

2012-02-07 11:03

Former president Thabo Mbeki will be among the guests expected to attend President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address on Thursday evening.

This will be the third time since Mbeki was recalled from office in 2008 that he attends the speech, which marks the opening of Parliament for the year.

Mbeki skipped the speech made by his successor, Kgalema Motlanthe (now deputy president), in 2009, as well as the 2010 address, when he was abroad on business.

But he attended Zuma’s first address shortly after his inauguration in May 2009, and last year’s, which marked 21 years since the unbanning of the ANC.

Other guests who have confirmed are former president FW de Klerk, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete (in her capacity as former deputy president), former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala and former chief justice Pius Langa.

Speaker of the Zimbabwean parliament, Lovemore Moyo, will be there too. He is also the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community parliamentary forum and is set to be in Cape Town to attend a meeting of the regional body.

Parliament this morning announced its theme for the year, which will be “The Knowledge, Economy and Development Opportunities”.

This means that this year’s focus will be on the technology’s role in developing and distributing knowledge.

“Parliament will be giving greater focus to government programmes and strategies to develop knowledge production and dissemination,” according to the statement.

“Although technological advancement is not a magic cure for the development challenges facing our country, science, technology and innovation can contribute significantly to meeting the needs of our society more efficiently and effectively,” Parliament said.

This year’s state of the nation will again be delivered at 7pm on Thursday.

Previously, the tradition was to have the speech on a Friday morning, but it was moved to the prime time evening slot to increase viewership and “to enable as many South Africans as possible to be part of this major event on our country’s political calendar,” Parliament said in a statement this morning.

The address will be broadcast live on radio and TV, on big screens at public venues in all provinces, live on Parliament’s website, while social networking sites like Twitter will also carry updates.

The ceremonial aspects of the opening of Parliament will be the same as in previous years, and most of Cape Town’s central business district will be closed for a few hours before the ceremony and for the duration.

As in previous years, judge presidents, premiers, provincial speakers, members of the executive council, the mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille, diplomats, former presiding officers of Parliament, former presidents and former deputy presidents were invited. 

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