President Mnangagwa delivers his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) today when he opens the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament and sets the Government’s legislative agenda for the coming session.
The Head of State and Government will address virtually a joint sitting of both the National Assembly and Senate, with all legislators following the speech on Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) and ZBC.
This first virtual SONA is because of the need to minimise risks of Covid-19 infection.
The President combined the two presentations, of giving the state of the nation and the Government’s legislative programme, last year as well.
In an interview yesterday, Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda said all was set for SONA and official opening of the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament.
Some legislators will follow proceedings from the Chamber, with others follow from their gadgets such as phones and television.
“All is now set for the official opening by His Excellency President Mnangagwa, who will also deliver the State of the Nation Address. The President will give us direction in terms of Government’s legislative agenda,” said Mr Chokuda.
He said entrance to Parliament Building will be restricted as part of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his announcement last week, Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda said the official opening of the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament was consistent with Section 140 of the Constitution, which relates to Presidential addresses and messages to Parliament.
“The President may at any time address either House of Parliament or a joint sitting of both Houses,” reads the Constitution.
“At least once a year the President must address a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on the state of the nation, and the Speaker and the President of the Senate must make the necessary arrangements for Parliament to receive such an address.”
There are a number of Bills that are still outstanding that Parliament will deal with in the coming session.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, which has sailed through the National Assembly, must now be considered by the Senate.
The Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill, the Financial Adjustment Bill, the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 1) Bill, the Marriages Bill, the Constitutional Court Amendment Bill, the Pension and Provident Funds Bill, the Manpower Planning and Development Bill, and the Centre for Education, Innovation, Research and Development Bill are in various stages of becoming law.
Some of the Bills are meant to align statute law with the Constitution or bring into effect the necessary political and legal reforms that the Second Republic has set out to achieve.
There is also the much-awaited Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, which initially went through Parliament, but President Mnangagwa withheld his assent and referred it to the House so that it could address concerns that he felt were not consistent with the Constitution.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday said the SONA was important for every Zimbabwean.
“This is when the President will talk to the Parliamentarians to give his legislative agenda, the Bills which are supposed to come to Parliament. He will also talk about the economic and social progress in the country. He will also talk to the nation about what the country has achieved.
“This is a very important day for all Zimbabweans across the political divide; we all need to listen to the President, let us all watch on TV, we should be able to understand where this country is coming, where we are and where it is going,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said today will be the first time that the opening of the a session of Parliament would be done virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions that discourage huge gatherings.
President Mnangagwa will address the nation from State House while all National Assembly and Senate representatives will assemble at Parliament Building around 11am.
President Mnangagwa will be at State House by noon, where he will inspect a guard of honour and then proceed to address the nation.