Government cuts SONA budget in half

Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has announced that the budget for 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) has been cut by 47%.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday (30 January), Mbete said that the reduction forms part of parliament’s commitment to cutting costs.

“Consistent with our endeavour to continuously scale down on costs in light of prevailing economic conditions, we have kept arrangements to the bare minimum without compromising the significance and decorum of the occasion,” she said.

“As South Africans continue to face economic challenges, Parliament is taking very feasible steps to do more with fewer resources progressively. Parliament has cut the budget for the SONA ceremony by 47% in comparison with the 2018 SONA budget.

Mbete said a couple of events and items that usually form part of SONA have been withdrawn from the 2019 February SONA.

These cuts will include:

  • The participation of the nine eminent persons;
  • Provincial winners of the education radio programme;
  • The Junior and Civil Guard of Honour selected from the different legislatures.

She added that the post SONA gala dinner for Members of Parliament and guests will not take place next week.

Mbete said that from the budgeted R4.7 million in 2018, the actual expenditure was reduced to R1.9 million. For this year’s SONA, Parliament has budgeted R2.5 million, she said.

Despite the cuts, Mbete said that a number of traditions would still remain in place.

“This includes a national salute by the Ceremonial Guard of the South African National Defence Force, a military band, a salute flight by the SA Air Force and the 21 gun salute,” she said.

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Government cuts SONA budget in half