By Koketso Mamabolo
State of the Nation Address (SONA)
The State of the Nation address is the President’s opportunity, as the Head of State, to give parliamentarians, and the millions of South Africans whom they represent, a broad update on the plans for the year. In the address, the President sheds light on the Executive’s focus areas, offering a roadmap for the year and beyond.
This roadmap outlines policy objectives, whilst recapping what has been achieved and the obstacles faced by the state. The address is followed by an opportunity for the political parties to engage with the President’s speech in order to perform their oversight function.
World Wetlands Day – 2 February
This year’s commemoration is geared towards rousing the world into action. South Africa is one of the signatories of the Ramsar Convention. Our membership was formalised in 1975 and one of the obligations we are bound by is to celebrate World Wetlands Day, which is aimed at creating awareness of the pivotal role wetlands play in filtering toxic substances and sediment from water. They purify and manage the flow of water, and are home to various animal and plant life.
World Cancer Day – 4 February
With over 115 000 people in South Africa diagnosed with cancer each year, creating awareness is a constant imperative. Part of this are campaigns to encourage people to go for screenings, in order to get treatment as soon as possible. “World Cancer Day is the only day on the global health calendar where we can all unite and rally under the one banner of cancer in a positive and inspiring way,” says the South African government.
Leading the global fight against cancer is the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), who bring the cancer community together, build its capacity and advocate for quality health policies.
World Day of Social Justice – 20 February
This year the UN is calling for justice in the digital economy. On their website they state: “The crisis has also laid bare and exacerbated the growing digital divide within, between and across developed and developing countries, particularly in terms of the availability, affordability and use of information ICTs and access to the internet, deepening existing inequalities.”
This is true of South Africa, too, where the government has made addressing inequality at the heart of recovery plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including a special relief of distress grant and efforts to regulate data prices and increase WiFi coverage.
International Mother Language Day – 21 February
Speaking one language helps communication, hence English is the language of business. But in finding common ground it’s important for mother language’s to not be lost for the sake of convenience. Mother languages carry with them humanity’s history, and International Mother Language Day seeks to preserve this history by reminding us to pass our mother language onto the next generation.
In a country with eleven official languages, not to mention the unofficial ones, observing this day is even more important. Our identity as a rainbow nation is characterised not just by race but also by the kaleidoscope of languages spoken across the country.
International Tourist Guide Day – 21 February
Tourism is a major part of the South African economy, contributing 3.7% to GDP in 2019, with a total of R209-billion, which is more than agriculture, construction and utilities. As such tourism has been identified as key to economic recovery. Once again International Tourist Guide Day falls in the middle of a pandemic which has limited domestic and international travel. Whether it be travel bans or concerns by tourists about contracting COVID-19, the lack of visitors left many tourist guides with no-one to guide.
Things are slowly getting back to normal with efforts to get South Africans to see more of their country, and to encourage tourists from overseas to come see what the nation has to offer. Tourism has been identified as key to economic recovery,