No-frills state of the nation on the cards as Parly slashes costs

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his first state of the nation address in Parliament last year. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his first state of the nation address in Parliament last year. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi

Parliament will be cutting costs of hosting next week’s state of the nation address by 47% compared with last year, and a price tag of R2.5 million has been set aside for this year’s event.

During a state of readiness address to the media, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete revealed that the gala dinner usually held after the address would not be going ahead in an effort to curb costs for the opening of Parliament.

“As South Africans continue to face economic challenges, Parliament is taking feasible steps to do more with fewer resources progressively. Parliament has cut the budget for the state of the nation address ceremony by 47% in comparison to the 2018 budget.

“From the budgeted R4.7 million in 2018, the actual expenditure came down to R1.9 million. For this address, we have budgeted R2.5 million, and we are confident that with the additional spending control measures in place, the actual expenditure will be significantly lower,” Mbete said.

As part of the cost-cutting exercise, the participation of the nine eminent persons, provincial winners of a public education radio programme, and the junior and civil guard of honour selected from the different legislatures had also been withdrawn.

The address by the president of the country is a requirement in terms of Section 42 of the Constitution. Next week’s address will be the last one for the fifth and current Parliament, which would make way for the sixth Parliament following this year’s upcoming general election.

A second address will be held later this year following the elections and signalling the start of the sixth Parliament.

The current Parliament is busy finalising a handover report, which will be given to the incoming Parliament. It will detail the work that has been done over the past five years. The legacy report will also outline the work which will have to be continued by the incoming Parliament. This is likely to include the process of amending Section 25 of the Constitution in order to allow for it to explicitly allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

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