BLOEMFONTEIN – Opposition parties in the Free State are peeved that the provincial government is spending R2m on the State of the Province Address (SOPA), while it is cutting down on jobs.
Speaker Mamiki Qabathi says R2.01m has been budgeted for the SOPA, which is to be delivered on Tuesday. It is being held at the Thanda Tau private game reserve near Vrede, Netwerk24 reported.
Qabathi said the money had been set aside for, among others, renting the facility, which amounts to R325 000, as well as invitations, marquee and other tents, the sound system, stage, as well as media and toilet facilities.
She says they decided on Thanda Tau because it is near Vrede and Warden and close to the N3 highway. In the past, it was held at the University of the Free State’s Vista campus.
Qabathi said in 2016 the SOPA had cost just over R2.8m, and the legislature was satisfied that it had been able to reduce the costs this year.
In the past, Free State MPLs had been allowed to bring 10 guests along, but that had been reduced to just one guest per MPL this year for financial reasons, she said.
Qabathi said there would be 2 000 MPLs and invited guests at the event.
Roy Jankielsohn, a DA member in the legislature, said while some municipalities in the province had financial problems, the legislature was going to fork out for the transport and reception of 2 000 guests.
The party said the money could have been better spent to finance service delivery programmes.
Wouter Wessels, FF Plus member in the legislature, says the provincial government is irresponsible to be spending millions on the SOPA while job opportunities in the province are dwindling.
“Members of the community will be getting food parcels, but will then have to return to the realities of unemployment and poverty,” he said.