President Cyril Ramaphosa (Netwerk24, Adrian de Ko
President Cyril Ramaphosa (Netwerk24, Adrian de Kock)
  • The June 2019 State Of the Nation (SONA) will likely be the cheapest in five years.
  • The National Assembly said it has cut costs in the light of South Africa’s economic slump. 
  • R500,000 less has been budgeted for the event, with the legislature expecting to actually spend even less. 
  • For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 State of the Nation address is set to be the cheapest in five years, R500,000 cheaper than his address in February.

National assembly speaker Thandi Modise said the legislature has taken appropriate cost-cutting measures to reduce the financial burden of the event. 

“We are mindful of this ceremony taking place against the backdrop of a recent slump in our economy in the first three months of 2019, which Stats SA observed is the biggest quarterly fall in economic activity since the first quarter of 2009,” Modise said. 

She said R2.5 million was budget for February’s SONA - a 47% decrease from 2018 - but only R1.6 million was spent.

“Parliament has budgeted a total amount of R2 million for this State of the Nation Address ceremony, and indications are that we will spend significantly less than the budgeted figure.” 

Also read: SA's new cabinet: Here's how much taxpayers will save 

SONA budgets have seen a steady decline since 2015 when Parliament first chose to cancel the then usual banquet at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

The 2015 SONA cost R3.1 million, against a budget of R4.1 million; the 2016 SONA came in at R2 million compared to a budget of R3.9 million, and the 2017 SONA had a price tag of R2.3 million compared to a budget of R4 million.

Modise said various cost-cutting measures introduced by the legislature for the June 2019 SONA include a “drastic reduction” in the event marketing and advertising budget, removing the junior and civil guard, and no longer inviting “Eminent Persons” from provinces. 

Eminent Persons are people who were usually selected from provinces on the basis of their outstanding achievements in their respective fields. 

The legislature also chose not to host a competition where nine lucky winners of national radio competitions attend the gathering. 

Modise said due to expected weather conditions, and a scaling down of the event, Ramaphosa’s walk to the national assembly building will be shorter than usual. 

She said Ramaphosa originally chose to not have an Imbongi, which usually ushered the president into the chamber ahead of the address, but this decision is being reconsidered. 

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