President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address cost taxpayers “R11-million and counting” the Democratic Alliance said.
Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana said this year’s address and festivities would cost up to R4-million‚ less than the R4.5-million it cost last year.
Because there was such controversy around the heavy police and military presence at parliament this year‚ DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen investigated what additional money was spent‚ sending questions to the police‚ the department of public works‚ the military and the State Security Agency (SSA).
The police service said it spent R4.085-million on security and staffing and the department of public works said it spent R2.7-million.
The SSA refused to answer questions. Steenhuisen will submit a Promotion of Access to Information request to find out.
The military provided documents that showed it spent R204 153.60 on providing 441 SANDF members for six days “to maintain law and order during the opening of parliament”.
There was something wrong with the figures‚ Steenhuisen said. Last year the military said it spent R344 405.28 for only 188 personnel for four days.
Steeenhuisen believes more than R11-million was spent in total.
He said the figures made a mockery of Mgidlana’s comments that the address is “about the president and members of the public interacting with the speech being made”.
The address was no longer accessible to ordinary people‚ but they had to spend more tax money “for a compromised president facing a hostile parliament”‚ Steenhuisen said.
The millions spent on the address could have gone towards job-creation or education‚ he said.