South African Parliament expects to save around R1 million by cancelling a lavish gala dinner usually held after the President delivers his State of the Nation Address, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
Parliament’s presiding officers have announced that they expect to save millions as they will no longer host a gala dinner after President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) this week.
President Zuma, who recently took time out to rest after a busy election period, is expected to deliver his speech at 7pm on Tuesday 17 June.
Baby Tyawa, the Deputy Secretary to Parliament, said the budget for SONA 2014 was set at R4 million — which is less than February’s SONA budget of R5.7 million.
Tyawa said Parliament’s administration was, despite the pressures that came with the President’s request for SONA to be moved from 19 to 17 June, prepared for the change as they had always planned for it in the past.
She said Parliament had factored in that this year there were going to be two SONAs.
â€œFor this particular [event] we have budgeted R4 million. However, that is the budget, not the cost.
â€œIt is likely that we will have a saving but I will not put a figure to the savings primarily because we are not going to have the gala dinner at the ICC (Cape Town International Convention Centre). We are going to have [a cocktail dinner] on the precinct so we are anticipating a saving, but I cannot give a figure to the particular saving.
â€œAt the ICC, we would normally spend about R3.5-million to book the venue as well as [to get] what we normally need,” she said.
This comes as the Democratic Alliance prepares to submit a series of questions to determine the exact amount President Zuma’s bloated new Cabinet will cost South Africans.
What South Africans want Zuma to talk about
Youth development and jobs, housing and boosting small businesses are among the things citizens want Zuma to speak about when he delivers his address.
Martin Dirk, from Mitchells Plain, said he would like to hear the President outline how jobless and unskilled youth with matric would be helped.
â€œOur children have passed matric and are still struggling to find jobs for years. My son and daughter both have their matric. My daughter passed matric when she was 18 and she is now 27, still struggling to find a decent job,” he said.
When the President announced his new cabinet, he announced that a new Ministry of Small Businesses would be formed to focus on ensuring that small businesses are given a chance to survive, and that red tape is reduced.
Cape Town entrepreneur Sakhile Malinga, said he would like to see Zuma talking about how government would make it easier to do business.
â€œAs an entrepreneur, I would like to see what the benefits are for small business. I think there are tax benefits and initiatives on receiving contracts. I think the biggest support we would require would be for government to make it easy to do business, proper business, not tender business,” he said.
Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane wants Zuma to bring five urgent interventions to SONA:
After the President’s speech on Tuesday, a debate on SONA will take place on 18 and 19 June, and President Zuma will respond to the debate on 20 June.