Xanet Scheepers

By Xanet Scheepers

Digital Lifestyle Editor

Sona fashion: From Public Protector’s daring cleavage to timeless elegance of Lindiwe Zulu

We look at some of the sona 2024 fashion looks on the red carpet to see who got it right and who got it wrong...

The State of the Nation Address (Sona) is not only about politics, it’s also about fashion and seeing what South African politicians choose to wear when they put their best, or worst, fashion foot forward.

The fashion brief for the Sona 2024 was to wear local in an attempt to boost the South African fashion industry as well as highlight the importance of supporting the local retail, clothing, textile, footwear and leather sector.  

Parliament partnered with Proudly South African for this year’s Sona, urging members of Parliament and guests to wear locally produced brands.

Sona 24: Local is lekka

Speaking on eNCA before the red-carpet event, internet personality and founder of the Feather Awards, Thami Dish, said Sona fashion has evolved tremendously over the last 30 years and that the initiative the South African government has taken to encourage attendees to wear local is great for the economy and to create jobs.

Forming part of the Fashion Police panel at this year’s Sona red carpet, Founder and Creative Director, Hangwani Nengovhela of Rubicon Clothing said it’s important for people to start growing the economy.

“Support local products including designers, because we contribute quite a lot to small businesses.”

She added that she was really impressed by our politicians’ fashion this year, especially for wearing local.

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Did Sona guests meet the fashion brief?

As more than 400 guests made their way into Cape Town City Hall to watch President Cyril Ramaphosa deliver the 2024 State of the Nation Address, we caught a glimpse of some outfits that stood out.

Timeless in black

Black seemed to be a very dominant colour on the red carpet, and the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu’s black gown met the brief. Speaking to Thami Dish, the minister proudly told how her daughter designed her dress. Her handbag was from the Cape Town Society of the Blind, an organization her department is working very closely with.

Suit up

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe looked dapper in black suit pants and shoes with an orange and blue patterned shirt. It was a refreshing look, moving away from the usual suit and tie combo which landed President of the South African Youth League, Collen Malatji on the fashion miss list.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe
Picture: GCIS

Malatji was dressed in a light blue suit paired with a maroon tie. The Fashion Police panel said they expected a little more glam, but they were glad the suit was from a local designer. Fashion designer Otsile Sefolo of Otiz Seflo felt the red tie’s colour was too contrasting against the colour of the blue suit.

Traditional attire

MPs and guests also strut the red carpet proudly showing off the handmade traditional attire from their various provinces.

Guests wearing traditional attire at Sona 2024
Picture: GCIS

Biji from Biji La Maison thought it was gorgeous. At the end of the day, I think the celebration of colour is beautiful. It’s fun and it’s vibrant and I think that’s also beautiful about South Africa’s traditional garments.”

Traditional attire Sona
Picture credit: GCIS

What the heck?

When it comes to attending a State of the Nation Address, how does one know what to wear? The Fashion Police panel recommends elegance. The Sona red carpet is no place for matric dance dresses or frills.

Here are some Sona fashion looks that completely missed the mark:  

Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka might need some protection from her own fashion sense. Wearing a strapless, red silk dress, she showed off a little too much cleavage for the stately event – even giving us a peek of her tattoo on her breast.

Biji from Biji La Maison felt the Public Protector’s dress needed to be more fitted around the waist and, that while there is nothing wrong with showing cleavage, it could have been done in a more tasteful design.

Here are some other cringe-worthy looks from the red carpet:

Sona 2024 fashion misses
Picture Credit: GCIS

NOW SEE: WATCH LIVE: President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the 2024 State of the Nation Address

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