Inauguration to cost SA over R120m

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IOL zuma inauguration Reuters File photo: Judgment in the urgent application lodged by the ANC against the DA over a text message about President Jacob Zuma was reserved. Picture: Kim Ludbrook

Johannesburg - The president’s inauguration after the May 7 elections will cost taxpayers more than R120 million. Documents released after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget this week show that the National Treasury has allocated the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) “R80m to cater for all the logistical arrangements and the diplomatic and protocol services during the inauguration of the president”.

The services will be rendered by Dirco with other departments, who are not named in the National Treasury’s 2014 estimates of national expenditure.

Although the upcoming elections are expected to be hotly contested, President Jacob Zuma is unlikely to be deposed and, barring a calamity, he will in all likelihood be inaugurated a few days after May 7.

The estimates reveal that the Public Works Department expects its budget for state functions to “increase by 149.8 percent, mainly to provide for the presidential inauguration ceremony in 2014”.

Public works’ budget for state functions is R27.1m in the current financial year (2013/14).

In 2014/15, the year of the inauguration, it will shoot up to R67.7m and then down to about R28.5m in 2015/16.

According to the Treasury documents, the increase of more than R40.6m is due to the inauguration.

Zuma’s inauguration five years ago cost R75m, including R60m from the Department of Foreign Affairs, as Dirco was known then. Public works budgeted R15m for the inauguration in 2009.

The cabinet approved a reduction of R540.3m for Dirco and the department cut its transfer to the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund.

Consequently, R220.3m of this was reprioritised to bring the SA Development Partnership Agency into operation and provide for the 2014 presidential inauguration and increase voluntary contributions to the AU Commission.

“The projected increase in spending on goods and services and compensation of employees over the medium term is due to a once-off allocation of R80m in 2014/15 for the 2014 presidential inauguration,” reads the Treasury document.

Last week, the government issued tenders for the supply, installation and removal of the pavilions in the Amphitheatre at the Union Buildings for the inauguration.

It also invited companies to render services to set up a temporary stage, install audio-visual equipment outside the Union Buildings.

The government also needs horticulture services, VIP toilet trailers and portable toilets for disabled guests, including hand-wash basins, at several sites for the inauguration.

Dirco also needs furniture, décor, linen and floral arrangement at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Huesthouse, Bryntirion and catering for VIP and VVIP guests during the May inauguration.

Marquees and security fencing will be needed at the Bryntirion Estate and the Union Buidlings. Public works will be responsible for dome marquee furniture requirements, securing seating, tables and linen at Bryntirion Estate.

Across the country, 100 big plasma television screens were erected for those who could not attend.

There was also a concert for ordinary people which included some of the country’s leading musicians, while VIPs and other luminaries were whisked off to a gala event hosted by Zuma.

Meanwhile, the cabinet approved budget reductions of R99.5m, R102.6m and R102.6m for the Home Affairs Department, according to the National Treasury documents.

The reductions will mainly be effected in non-core areas of the department’s operations, such as venues and facilities, and catering and entertainment.

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