What you need to know about #Sona2014 (ver. 2.0)  

A child sits against a graffitied vibercrete wall, with Table Mountain in the background.

1.     Didn’t we have a State of the Nation address already? Why are we having another one?

Yes, we know its confusing. But it’s quite simple, really. In an election year, there is a second State of the Nation Address once a new president has been elected and inaugurated. Besides being President Zuma’s first speech to the newly elected parliament, the speech also marks the official start of a new session of parliament. You know the place where the food is really fatty.

2.     So we can expect Capetonians to complain?

Of course. That’s normal. This time, there will be road closures in Cape Town and naturally quite a mess. Lucky for you, the full details of the closures are here.

Also, since we are in the business of good news, the MyCiTi operations won’t be too badly affected. But those of you who use the Golden Acre bus terminus will have to take the buses from a temporary station at Strand Street at the Castle from 18:00 onwards.

And those of you who thought of ambling through Company’s Garden, access has been restricted since 09:00 on Tuesday. (The squirrels will enjoy the protection of the SAPS.)

Now, say thanks.

3. And all this disruption is for what, exactly?

Well, government communications tells us that the address will, “as in previous years, be a full ceremonial occasion, involving all branches of the state and including public participation”. Sounds very fancy to us.

What you can expect: a mounted police escort and a military ceremonial motor escort, a red carpet at Parliament lining the president’s route to the National Assembly building, a national salute by the ceremonial guard of the SANDF and a 21-gun salute.

 4. Seriously though, what can we expect Zuma to say?

We can expect President Zuma to puff his chest out (if he’s well enough), and reiterate what he said in February, “Ours is indeed a country at work and is a much better place to live in.” And then he’ll tell us how he’ll be leading the way as South Africa is transformed into an ever better to live in place over the next five years. Expect frequent mentions of the National Development Plan, some posturing around “radical economic transformation” and old promises recycled as fresh ambition.

Unfortunately, in none of this, will he tell us how any of this is going to happen. Sigh.

5. And then what?

Well, nothing major really. There will be some noise on Twitter, as people mock the dresses, the parties and the faux-glamour of the occasion. Tomorrow morning, the media will have a field day. You know, the usual buzz.

Next week, parliamentarians will awake from tonight’s party to debate the speech and the points mentioned – so they at least can prepare to volley insults across the floor in the name of democracy. The rest of us, well, we’re not sure ourselves.

Meanwhile, if you want a taste of what this speech means to ordinary South Africans, beyond the tailored words and political pomp, follow our live blog here.