Parliament - It is all systems go for Parliament to host the State of the Nation Address (SONA) with the institution cutting more costs for the upcoming event.
Speaker Baleka Mbete said on Wednesday next week’s SONA will cost less than the event of last year.
She said a number of cost-cutting measures have been undertaken by Parliament in light of the tough economic climate.
Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan introduced the cost-cutting measures a few years ago, urging departments and State-Owned Entities (SOEs) to cut the frills.
Mbete said some of the events that took place in the past will no longer happen.
“As South Africans continue to face economic challenges, Parliament is taking every feasible step to do more with fewer resources progressively,” Mbete said.
“Parliament has cut the budget for the 2019 SONA ceremony by 47% in comparison to the 2018 SONA budget,” she said.
“From the budgeted R4.7 million in 2018, the actual expenditure came down to R1.9m. For this SONA we have budgeted R2.5m, and we are confident that with the further spending control measures put in place, the actual expenditure will be significantly lower,” said Mbete.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's SONA will be the only agenda item during the joint sitting of Parliament on February 7 with strict rules of engagement and parliamentary conventions applying, the national legislature's presiding officers said.
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairwoman Thandi Modise added they expected no disruptions, despite the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) threatening to the turn the SONA into a roasting of Ramaphosa over his dealings with a company implicated in state capture.
"There is no extraordinary measures put in place. The usual preparations for SONA are in place. We are not expecting any disruptions," said Modise.
The EFF last week indicated that if Ramaphosa did not call a media briefing on his dealings with Bosasa (now trading as African Global Operations), they would turn the SONA into a question-and-answer session.
Mbete said no Q&A has been scheduled.
"Only one agenda item will be tabled at the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the NCOP - the SONA," said Mbete.
"Maintaining the decorum of the house remains the responsibility of both presiding officers during this special sitting and the rules and conventions of joint sittings will apply."
African News Agency/ANA and Political Bureau