According to the DA’s Chief Whip at Parliament John Steenhuisen, he has revealed how much money it really cost the national for this years State Of the Nation Address By President Zuma;
Replies to questions I submitted immediately following the State of the Nation Address (SONA) have revealed that the cost of the 2017 edition has reached an astonishing R11 million.
On 2 February, Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana told media that R4 million had been budgeted for the event. However, replies to written questions to the ministers of Police and Public Works revealed that their departments spent a further R4.085 million and R2.7 million, respectively.
The Department of State Security avoided answering the question, as is their habit, claiming that their enormous deployment to the event “came from the normal operational budget of the [State Security] Agency”. 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, and why.
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.
The ‘hidden’ cost of SONA not only reveals how much the increasing securitisation and militarisation 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 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.
The DA will keep probing the real cost of SONA 2017 and, once calculated, reveal how many millions was spent on having a paranoid president deliver a speech to his own caucus.