Parliament saves a few million on shindig after State of the Nation

2014-02-12 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Parliament’s expenses at this year’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) are R2 million less than what it spent last year.

Parliament’s acting secretary, Baby Tyawa, yesterday said at a media briefing on the address the costs of President Jacob Zuma’s last Sona in the current parliament amount to R5,7 million compared to R7,7 million last year.

Zuma will deliver the address at 7 pm tomorrow.

The reason for the savings is that the traditional banquet held on the day will this year be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and not in a marquee, as was done last year.

“It’s cheaper at the convention centre than having tents.

“To host the banquet at this centre simply makes economic sense. Everything is under one roof. There are no additional costs. The price of the banquet covers everything, even the food.”

Tyawa did not want to say how much the banquet would cost.

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 addresses 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.”

The general election is set to take place on May 7.

He also pointed out that the State of the Nation address is not the opening of Parliament, but that Parliament had already been working for a month, with a constituency period and an “intense” committee programme.

Max Sisulu, speaker of the National Assembly, said several important persons were expected to attend the address. He did not want to list their names, but said former presidents Thabo Mbeki and F.W. de Klerk, as well as cabinet ministers who had served for the past 20 years, had been invited. He said another highlight at this year’s address will be the attendance of 18 young South Africans who had been born during 1994. Nine of these 20-year-olds were born on April 27, 1994, the day on which the first democratic elections took place.

Sisulu said this year’s Sona would be bitter sweet, as it will be the first State of the Nation address without former president Nelson Mandela.

Sisulu said the date for the second address after the elections had not yet been determined, but it will take place soon after the elections.

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