Parliament cuts speech costs by R2m

2014-02-11 16:17

This year’s first state of the nation speech will cost R2 million less than last year, Parliament’s acting secretary Baby Tyawa has said.

Responding to questions at a media briefing on the speech, which President Jacob Zuma is set to deliver at 7pm on Thursday, she said the budgeted cost was R5.7 million, “R2 million less this year”.

Earlier, National Council of Provinces chairperson Mninwa Mahlangu said Parliament had “definitely taken into account what Treasury said about tightening our belts”.

He was referring to an announcement by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, made in his medium-term budget policy statement last year, of severe cuts to government perks.

Mahlangu said there would be two state of the nation speeches this year.

“In a general election year, like this one, there are two state-of-the-nation addresses, one in February, and another one after the election and the establishment of a new Parliament.”

National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu said a date for the second speech had not been set, but it would be shortly after the elections, which are set to take place on May 7.

Mahlangu stressed that Thursday’s event was not the opening of Parliament because the institution had resumed work last month, with a constituency period and an “intense” committee programme.

The traditional banquet held on the day would this year be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and not in a tent, as was done last year.

“It’s cheaper at the convention centre than having tents,” Deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo said.

Thursday’s event will be a full ceremonial occasion. It will start at 4pm, with MPs, cabinet ministers and guests arriving at Parliament’s Poorthuys entrance.

As in previous years, there will be processions of dignitaries, including members of the judiciary and provincial premiers, up Parliament Street to the National Assembly.

Zuma will arrive in time to take the national salute at 6.55pm from a podium in front of the building. This will include a 21-gun salute and a fly-past by aircraft from the South African Air Force. The president’s speech will be broadcast live.

On preparations at Parliament, Mahlangu said he could say with confidence that everything was on track.

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