According to the Democratic Alliance (DA) party, SONA cost has been exposed and, millions were spent to have a “Paranoid President” deliver a speech.
The opposition party’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP divulged that replies to questions he submitted immediately after the State of the Nation Address (SONA), revealed that 2017 SONA cost reached R11 million.
This, contradicts the Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana’s remark about a R4 million budget for the SONA event.
As learnt, the replies come from written questions directed to the Ministers of Police and Public Works. The replies showed that the Police and Public Works department respectively spent a further R4.085 million and R2.7 million.
“Adding the R204 153.60 spent on deploying 441 members of the South African National Defence Force ‘to maintain law and order during the opening of Parliament’, reveals that this year’s SONA cost at least R10 989 188.60.
This eye-watering amount could have been better spent on initiatives to create jobs, provide skills and training or on education for young South Africans.”
To the opposition party, the “hidden” cost of SONA didn’t only reveals how much the increasing securitization and militarization of the event is costing South Africans.
“It also makes a mockery of Mgidlana’s comments that SONA is ‘about the president and members of the public interacting with the speech being made’.”
“The sad reality,” DA went on, “is that SONA is no longer accessible to ordinary members of the public. However, they are expected to stump up more and more every year for a compromised President facing a hostile Parliament.”
With that, the party charged that it will keep probing the real cost of SONA 2017 to “reveal how many millions was spent on having a paranoid president deliver a speech to his own caucus.”
Meanwhile, Steenhuisen said the Department of State Security avoided answering his question claiming that their enormous deployment to the event “came from the normal operational budget of the (State Security) Agency.”
In line with that, the chief whip disclosed that the DA will submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to get a clear picture of SSA resources dedicated to the event.