Recently appointed speaker of the Eastern Cape legislature, Helen Sauls-August, has already made her mark by drastically reducing the State of the Province Address (SOPA) budget from R5 million to R700 000.
Making the announcement on Thursday, Speaker Sauls-August made it clear that there is no need for the event to have such an extravagant budget.
In past, the Address was held at private venues, but Speaker Sauls-August has instructed the event to be held in the Eastern Cape parliamentary chambers
Justifying her decision, she said that “the chamber has shown its capacity to host big audiences at the swearing-in ceremony”.
Guests will also be reduced from 1 200 to 650 and the R1.4 million catering costs will be slashed, with guests having to be satisfied with light snacks.
Previously, guests were treated to a three-course meal but Speaker Sauls-August says that it has become clear that this is “totally unnecessary”.
She says that the Eastern Cape legislature expects to save R12.5m over the five-year period.
Welcoming the decision, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, said that it “sets moral precedence for the provincial government and teaches both the provincial and local government to prioritize cost containment measures in favour of putting more money into programs that serve the people of the province”.
Similarly, President Ramaphosa will also be drastically reducing the budget for the State of the Nation address from R9.2m five years ago to R2m.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli said that, in addition to other various cost cutting measures, there would be no state-sponsored dinner for MPs and other VIPs.