By Chamu Wilson
The year 2018 will see two State of the Province Addresses (SOPAs) being delivered in the Free State as will be the case in all the other provinces of South Africa.
The current Premier, Sefora Sisi Ntombela, will tomorrow (19 Feb) deliver the first SOPA at the University of Free State South Campus while the second address will be delivered after the 08 May elections. Tomorrow’s function will also mark the official opening of the Free State Legislature proceedings for this year.
This will be Ntombela’s maiden SOPA address following her ascension to the post Premier in April 2018 following former Premier, Ace Magashule’s move to Luthuli House to become the African National Congress’s Secretary General.
Speaking at a media briefing at Bon Hotel on Thursday, the Deputy Speaker of the FS Legislature, Sizwe Mbalo, explained that the constitution of South Africa mandates the Fifth Administration, whose term comes to an end before the elections in May, to deliver a State of the Province Address.
“This year there will be two SOPAs, one on the 19th of February and another after the elections. This is because according to the Constitution, the 5th Administration has to present a State of the Province Address but its term of office comes to an end before the national elections in May, so the 6th Administration which comes into office after the elections will have to present another SOPA led by the new Premier,” explained Mbalo.
The Deputy Speaker took time to underscore the importance of SOPA in the development of the province.
“The State of the Province Address remains an important platform where the provincial government, through the Premier, is able to bring our people closer to work with government,” he said.
The State of the Province Address (SOPA) sets out the key policy objectives and deliverables for the year ahead for the Provincial Executive. The Premier will also highlight the achievements and challenges and ways and means to address them. The Official Opening and SOPA mark the beginning of the Legislative Programmes and the government as a whole.
Proceedings at the 2019 SOPA are expected to begin at 0800Hrs with the arrival of guests followed by the arrival of the Premier and Speaker at 0900Hrs. All the proceedings will be broadcast live on all local community radio stations and on the parliamentary TV channel as well as livestreaming on social media platforms.