Parliament ready for SONA, with trimmed budget

2016-02-05 17:29
Parliament (File, News24)

Parliament (File, News24)

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Cape Town - Parliament is ready to host President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address (SONA)  with a smaller budget of R3.5m.

With the after-speech dinner scrapped and guest lists cut to save money, the extraordinary sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces would go ahead on Thursday evening.

Parliament secretary Gengezi Mgidlana said the SONA was for Zuma to explain government's plans for the year. 

For two days after that political parties would debate the plan.

The SONA would be followed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget.

On Friday, the first of many reception tents was being erected and fake grass being unrolled around the parliamentary precinct.

The imbongi had been organised. This year he was from KwaZulu-Natal, according to a rotation system.

School children for the guard of honour had been arranged and ex-presidents and their deputies invited. They would include FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki.

Media facilities costing around R475 000 of the budget were being set up. Last year, a signal jammer was used to block cellphone and internet reception in the House, to the outrage of opposition MPs and journalists.

Mgidlana said there would be no such incidents this year, but the State Security Agency would be involved in the planning the event because of its magnitude.

EFF MPs were thrown out of the National Assembly last year for raising points of order to demand that Zuma ''pay back the money''.

The broadcast feed from GCIS stayed focused on the Speaker Baleke Mbete and NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise, instead of capturing the eviction.

On Friday, EFF leader Julius Malema said this year they would not let Zuma speak without interruption, as they wanted him to explain why he fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December.

Parliament's head of security and her deputy were still on suspension, but this was not expected to affect safety during the event, he said.

Activists Seskona, and a group of students might hold a protest march parallel to the event, but this had not been confirmed yet with the City of Cape Town, which gave permission for marches.

So far journalists had submitted 800 applications for accreditation.

So far, 727 had been granted. Last year, 600 journalists covered the event.

''We are ready to host a successful event for South Africa,'' said Mgidlana.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  politics  |  state of the nation 2016  |  parliament 2016

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