‘Inauguration to cost less than 2009’s’

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President Jacob Zuma

Pretoria - The government declined on Thursday to give the cost of President Jacob Zuma's inauguration on May 24, but said it would be cheaper than his first swearing-in five years ago.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane told reporters in Pretoria less would be spent than in 2009 “because of austerity measures being implemented by Cabinet”.

The 2009 inauguration cost taxpayers R75 million.

Chabane's statement contradicts media reports earlier this year that were based on a parliamentary reply by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, in which he said some R120m had been set aside, across various state departments, for the event.

Gordhan said, in reply to a question from the Democratic Alliance, that the projected cost was higher than last time because more foreign dignitaries would be invited.

The international relations and co-operation department's budget provided for hosting 40 dignitaries - double the number that flew to Pretoria five years ago.

Chabane would not disclose the number of foreign heads of state who had been invited to next weekend's ceremony. They would only be named next week, once they had responded to the invitation.

He confirmed that all former South African presidents were invited, as was tradition, and said he hoped they would attend.

The government was expecting tens of thousands of people to attend the ceremony, of whom 4 500 would be accommodated in the Nelson Mandela amphitheatre at the Union Buildings.

Chabane said Zuma would unveil his new Cabinet within a day or two of taking the oath for a second term of office.

“Soon, probably a day or two afterwards, the president will announce the new Cabinet,” he said. - Sapa


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