R120m budget for 'wasteful' presidential inauguration slammed

Loftus Versveld Stadium where, in a departure from tradition, the president-elect will be sworn in on May 25.
Loftus Versveld Stadium where, in a departure from tradition, the president-elect will be sworn in on May 25.
Image: Gauteng Tourism Authority

At a press briefing in Cape Town on Thursday‚ Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen distributed a document that showed that the budget requirements for this year's presidential inauguration amounted to R120m. The event will be held at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria after the May 8 general elections.

The document‚ which was discussed at a meeting of the multi-party task team on the establishment of the sixth parliament‚ states that parliament would "engage and negotiate with the presidency to have parliament's costs accommodated in the R120m budget".

Ramaphosa's office announced a fortnight ago that the presidential inauguration ceremony had‚ for the first time since 1994‚ been moved from the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria to Loftus to allow for greater public participation. It also coincided with the celebration of Africa Day on May 25.

But the DA has slated the presidency for the related expenditure‚ saying it was wasteful and a clear demonstration that Ramaphosa was paying lip service to restrained use of public funds.

Steenhuisen said the expenditure was misdirected at a time when the economy was showing weak performance.

He said asking municipalities to carry the cost of busing in people to Pretoria was simply unnecessary at a time when some of them were struggling to pay salaries.

Steenhuisen distributed a document from the Limpopo provincial government to the province's municipalities in which they were told of the presidency's request for "2‚000 compatriots to attend the presidential inauguration event".

"By convention‚ the inauguration of the president is held at the Union Buildings‚ with a select‚ invited audience. While the South African public should be incorporated in the inauguration of a president‚ it is unconscionable that the presidency will spend hundreds of millions to transport people in‚ taking precious financial resources from local municipalities to fund this jamboree‚" said Steenhuisen.

"This is the clearest sign yet that the tightening of the expenditure belt has only been lip service. Cyril Ramaphosa is not committed to ensuring the people come ahead of flashy political events that the public must pay for.

"We must face up to the fact that the ANC‚ this time under Ramaphosa‚ is the same old bus that genuinely does not care about implementing a financial turnaround strategy for this country after May 8 has come and gone."

Source: TMG Digital.