Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete says the budget for next week’s SONA has been cut by 47% as Parliament remains committed to cutting costs.
Mbete was speaking when the Presiding Officers of Parliament briefed the media at the National Assembly on the state of readiness ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address next week.
“Consistent without endeavour to continuously scale down on costs in light of prevailing economic conditions, we have kept arrangements to the bare minimum without compromising the significance and decorum of the occasion.
“As South Africans continue to face economic challenges, Parliament is taking very feasible steps to do more with fewer resources progressively. Parliament has cut the budget for the SONA ceremony by 47% in comparison with the 2018 SONA budget,” she said.
Mbete said a couple of events and items that usually form part of SONA have been withdrawn from the 2019 February SONA. This includes the participation of the nine eminent persons, provincial winners of education radio programme, the Junior and Civil Guard of Honour selected from the different legislatures.
She also said that as has been the case over the years, the post SONA gala dinner for Members of Parliament and guests will not take place next week.
From the budgeted R4.7 million in 2018, the actual expenditure went down to R1.9 million. For this year’s SONA, Mbete said, Parliament has budgeted R2.5 million.
She said Parliament was confident that with further spending control measures that have been put in place, the actual expenditure will be significantly lower.
She said a ceremonial parade exhibiting military traditions, drills and ethos of the army, the navy and the air force of the republic of South Africa will be maintained.
“This includes a national salute by the Ceremonial Guard of the South African National Defence Force, a military band, a salute flight by the SA Air Force and the 21 gun salute,” she said.
Mbete said, meanwhile, that former Heads of State, President Thabo Mbeki and President Kgalema Motlanthe, and former Presiding Officers, former National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala and former National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, have confirmed that they will attend the event.
She said there has been a high interest in the event from the media, and that 800 applications for accreditation have been received from national, provincial, community and international media organisations.
“We are pleased to state that all arrangements are in place to ensure a successful hosting of this important and last State of the Nation Address for the Fifth Parliament,” she said.