SONA 2015 budget cut in half

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cape Town – Parliament Secretary Gengezi Mgidlana says this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) will cost R4 million, which is a significant saving compared to last year’s February event.

In a bid to ensure that the event goes well without interruptions, the secretary said parliamentary officials have met with power utility Eskom and the City of Cape Town amid load shedding concerns and have been assured that scheduled power cuts will not affect the law makers’ precinct.

Briefing the media at the Old Assembly in Cape Town on Wednesday, the secretary said all hands are on deck and both houses of Parliament – the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) - were ready to host the event.

President Jacob Zuma will deliver the much anticipated speech on Thursday, February 12.

“As Parliament, we are subjected to the same economic conditions as South Africa … and therefore there are a number of austerity measures that we have put in place for this particular event.

“We have a budget of R4 million that has been allocated, which we are utilising in this regard,” he said.

The secretary said in February last year, Parliament’s budget for SONA stood at R9 million, while the second SONA – which took place in June last year following President Zuma’s May inauguration – saw Parliament spending R6.4 million.

Mgidlana said the budget reduction was aimed at bringing expenditure down in line with the country’s economic situation, which necessitates austerity measures to be implemented.

He said the bulk of the savings were made due to the fact that the banquet would be held in Parliament and not at the Cape Town International Convention Centre as has been the tradition in previous years.

Mgidlana also said savings would also be made as far as transport and catering is concerned.  

He said in terms of the live broadcast, Parliament had improved infrastructure inside the National Assembly to ensure that live feeds are given to the media without any hiccups.

The National Assembly now has eight cameras to ensure that the quality of the broadcast is improved, Mgidlana said.

No load shedding during the speech

While Eskom has over the past few days announced rolling power cuts to ease the electricity demand off the power grid, Mgidlana said he had received an assurance from Eskom and city officials to ensure that the President’s live speech will not be interrupted.

The assurance, he said, would apply to the live broadcast in Parliament and to public screening areas that have been organised by the Department of Communications.

“Parliament is not immune to activities that are happening out there. We have taken certain measures that will ensure that the event happens successfully, especially around the issues of load shedding. We have engaged both Eskom and the city to ensure that our proceedings can go ahead without interruptions.

“Eskom has given us an assurance that there will be no interruptions due to load shedding,” he said.

Mgidlana said members of the public should expect road closures around the Parliamentary precinct and that those will soon be made public on the Parliamentary website.

While he did not provide details, he also said security measures had been put in place to ensure that proceedings run according to plan with no threats. –

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