SONA costs cut while SANDF commitment remains the same


    The Parliamentary budget for Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa has been cut by almost half but this will not affect the ceremonial contribution of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

    As with previous SONAs, the military will be responsible for much of the pomp and pageantry of the annual event, again an evening one and scheduled to be broadcast live on national television.

    Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, director: defence corporate communication, said the SANDF would have a guard of honour (presumably the National Ceremonial Guard) and an undisclosed military band in the Parliamentary precinct as well as aides-de-camp and door openers. Other military elements taking part include military police motorcycle escort, a gun troop from the SA Army Artillery Formation that will execute a 21 gun salute and the SA Air Force (SAAF) in the form of a salute flight of PC7-Mk 11 aircraft from Central Flying School at AFB Langebaanweg.

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

    “In this regard, participation of the nine eminent persons, provincial winners of a public education radio programme, the Junior and Civil Guard of Honour selected from the different legislatures has been withdrawn for the February 2019 SONA. As has been the case in the previous years, the post SONA gala dinner for Members of Parliament and guests will not take place.

    “As South Africans continue to face economic challenges, Parliament is taking every feasible step to do more with fewer resources progressively. Parliament cut the budget for the SONA ceremony by 47% in comparison to the 2018 SONA budget. From the budgeted R4,7 million in 2018, the actual expenditure came down to R1,9m. For this SONA, R2,5 million is budgeted and with further spending control measures in place, actual expenditure will be significantly lower.”

    Parliament confirmed the military contribution to SONA 2019 saying “a ceremonial parade exhibiting the military traditions, drills and ethos of the army, navy and air force of South Africa will be maintained”.