President Cyril Ramaphosa Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA
DURBAN - Civil society organisations have praised President Cyril Ramaphosa for reducing the costs of his inauguration, saying this proved he was committed to austerity measures.

This comes after Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma revealed yesterday that cost- containment measures had forced the government to reduce the costs of Ramaphosa’s swearing-in, adding that it would cost R100million less than the 2014 event for Jacob Zuma.

Dlamini Zuma has vowed to spend less than R150m for the ceremony compared with the R240m forked out for Zuma’s event.

Dlamini Zuma, who is heading the interministerial committee on the inauguration, was briefing the media about the preparations

Ramaphosa’s swearing-in is scheduled for May 25, coinciding with the continental celebrations of Africa Day. It is also the birth of the AU forerunner, the Organisation of African Unity, which was formed in Ethiopia in 1963.

Ramaphosa will officially take the oath of office at a ceremony at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

“We chose the stadium because it is more cost effective compared to using the Union Buildings, which carries high preparation costs, in particular, the preparation of the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre. In line with the government austerity measures, we were happy to go with the least costly option,” Dlamini Zuma said.

She said another reason for opting for the stadium was to be as inclusive as possible by allowing the main events to take place at one venue.

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) chief executive Wayne Duvenage said if what Dlamini Zuma said was true, it would be a step in the right direction.

“I imagine that the president’s office would not make false claims of that nature, otherwise that would be easily exposed,” said Duvenage.

He added this was a sign that Ramaphosa was taking the austerity measures seriously.

“If he gets the right Cabinet with strong ethics and moral courage to kick out those individuals who are implicated in corruption, that would be the next big step,” said Duvenage.

Active Citizens Movement’s Nash Singh said he would not expect the inauguration to be exorbitantly costly. “A lot of money should not be used on the inauguration when there are poorest of the poor who have so many issues that can be taken care of with those millions of rand,” said Singh.

The IFP raised concerns about possible unnecessary expenses after reports that the president’s office had requested all the country’s municipalities to bus 18000 people to the stadium for the ceremony.

“We are of the view that some ANC municipalities will see this opportunity to do corruption by inflating logistical costs for the benefit of ANC comrades,” said Velenkosini Hlabisa, IFP leader in the KZN legislature.

“We are against this ill-advised instruction. Many municipalities of KwaZulu-Natal, like Pietermaritzburg and Durban, are in a shambles; people are protesting against the lack of service delivery. Msunduzi was recently put under administration because it has failed dismally in providing people with service delivery.”

When asked about the transporting of people to the inauguration, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko referred queries to the Government Communication and Information System, whose head Phumla Williams also denied knowledge of such a request.

“From the ministerial committee, I am not aware of it. The work we are doing is with provinces and national departments, and I am not aware of the municipalities,” said Williams.

Dlamini Zuma said the inauguration would be attended by all heads of state of the Southern African Development Community who had been invited.

THE MERCURY