Parliament is cutting back on some of the pomp and ceremony for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) next week in a bid to cut costs in the face of the economic challenges the country is experiencing.
Cold and rainy weather forecast for next Thursday may also give rise to changes to the South African National Defence Force’s programme for the event.
Parliament’s presiding officers on Thursday briefed journalists on preparations for the event, for which R2 million has been budgeted. Due to the May elections, it will be the second State of the Nation Address in one year.
Parliament said the ceremony cost R9.2 million five years ago.
Deputy National Assembly Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said there would be no junior or civil guard of honour for the state procession and eminent persons from the nine provinces wouldn’t be present.
There’ll also be no praise singer, or imbongi, to lead Ramaphosa into the chamber.
“The occasion will still present the decorum and solemnity of a key state event of this magnitude. In making these modifications, the prevailing economic hardships that continue to face most South Africans, and the expected unfavourable weather conditions, have been taken into account,” Tsenoli said.
Tsenoli said a comprehensive wet-weather plan was in place in case of rain and wind, while 1,200 guests had been invited.
R2 million has been budgeted, the same amount allocated for February’s Sona, which ended up costing R1.6 million.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said she hoped next week’s Sona would also come in under budget.
The R2 million excluded the amount to be spent by the SANDF on its part of the programme, which included a military salute, a fly-past, bands, and guards of honour, but which would also change in case of bad weather.