A less flashy affair

2019-01-23 15:22

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There will be fewer spectators when politicians take to the red carpet at the official opening of KwaZulu-Natal’s legislature this year as the province opts for a less glamorous and costly affair.

A second, more grand, opening of the legislature is expected to take place after the elections. Both the official opening of the legislature and the state of the province address (Sopa) are instead going to be “small”, private functions that will be held at the provincial legislature building.

The two-day affair in which the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini addresses the first day, and the premier delivers Sopa on the second day, has been held at the Royal Showgrounds for almost a decade.

Traditionally, politicians arrive in flashy cars, make their way along the red carpet in shiny shoes and exotic fashions while members of the public come from all corners of the province to witness the proceedings.

However, insiders say financial constraints this year have pushed the legislature to hold the two-day event at the legislature chamber. The decision also takes account of the fact that a second “opening” will take place after the elections later this year.

“The ceremony to be held after the election would be a big event which will be held at the Royal Showgrounds. There is also that feeling that most of the people in this administration are not coming back after the election, so why must they have a big event.

“The people coming in want to arrive with a bang so they do not want the current crop stealing the limelight from them,” said an insider.

Office of the Premier spokesperson Mandla Msomi said the legislature decides when and where Sopa will be held.

“The presentation of the Sopa by the premier, is part of the legislature programme and it is the legislature that will determine how and where the Sopa will be presented this year,” he said.

Opposition parties have welcomed the move, saying it will save the legislature a lot of money.

“This is long overdue,” said DA caucus leader at the legislature, Zwakele Mncwango.

“It is costly to do the official opening at the Royal Showgrounds. This decision must be commended. We are facing financial constraints,” he said.

Mncwango said holding a small function at the legislature would mean there would be fewer tenders issued for the event, which he said would help curb corruption associated with awarding of tenders in general.

IFP caucus leader at the legislature, Blessed Gwala, said the decision would help save money.

“Only a few people will be invited because the venue is small. For us it makes sense to move the event to the legislature chamber as we are facing financial constraints,” he said.

NFP spokesperson Sabelo Sigudu said although they supported the decision to move the event to the legislature building, they were disappointed that they were not consulted before the decision was taken.

An insider with knowledge of the event, said the change of the venue will not make any major difference.

“It means just like the old days, Langalibalele Street will be closed during the event. That is how it was before. You would have David Ntombela (late former IFP strongman) leading amabutho (Zulu warriors) who would march through Langalibalele Street to the legislature,” said the insider.

Legislature spokesperson Wonder Hlongwa said the decision on whether this year’s event would be held at the Royal Showgrounds or at the legislature had not been finalised.

“There are still on going consultations. As soon as they are finalised, we will issue a statement.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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