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SONA 2016: Less spending, more accessibility needed – DA

DAThe DA notes Parliament’s communication regarding its ‘readiness’ for this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) and eagerly awaits its briefings this week.

 

Over the years SONA has become an ostentatious parade and security theatre performance that closer resembles a socialite soiree than the annual opening of the national legislature.

 

Last year’s SONA was marred by poor rulings by the Presiding Officers, disturbances by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, and even unsanctioned police presence in the National Assembly (NA) chamber.

 

Further, Parliament spent an exorbitant R4 million on the event and R13.6 million on the two SONA events during 2014. The DA is pleased Parliament has finally buckled to our boycotts and cancelled its traditional – and rather lavish – post-SONA dinner, but there is still a lot more belt tightening to be done.

 

Year on year SONA has also experienced an expensive increase in security which last year culminated in the unprecedented deployment of a State Security Agency (SSA) signal jamming device in the NA, interruption of the sitting’s live broadcast feed, and South African Police Servicemen storming the chamber to forcefully remove Members of Parliament (MPs). In doing so the Speaker of the NA, Baleka Mbete, not only violated the separation of powers between the executive and Parliament, but also escalated the disturbances in the chamber to a level of violence that led to the injury of a number of opposition MPs.

 

Parliament is meant to operate in an accessible and safe manner that serves the people of South Africa, not just the governing party and its guests. The DA will raise the aforementioned issues at the various meetings and briefings scheduled to deal with SONA preparations this week, and do everything in its power to ensure accessibility and prevent Parliament’s splurging.

 

With so many South Africans crying out for answers for crucial questions regarding our economy, unemployment, and service delivery we cannot afford a repeat of last year’s fiascos and financial folly.

Issued by DA

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