Parliament has made a u-turn in a decision to exclude an imbongi ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address.
The legislature last week announced it was cutting the traditional praise singer from the programme as part of austerity measures in slashing the cost of Sona.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said the cost to host Sona would be around R2-million. That’s down from more than R9-million five years ago.
Several cultural groupings and the National Heritage Council were up in arms over the exclusion of the imbongi as every democratically elected head of state since 1994 has had a praise singer usher in proceedings.
Now, Parliament has confirmed an imbongi, will in fact be present.
“We can confirm that tonight we will have an imbongi. That pressure the public put on us has been heard. We’ll have a praise singer from the Khoi and San people,” Modise said on Thursday morning.
But while a praise singer will be heralding the president’s arrival, Parliament has ensured all costs are to be kept at a minimum.
One thousand two hundred guests have been invited to attend the address. Excluded from this Sona programme is a civilian and eminent person guard of honour. There will also be no post-Sona gala dinner as this was scrapped several years ago.
Parliament’s cost-cutting measures are having a ripple effect in provincial legislatures around the country.
Last week, Eastern Cape provincial legislature speaker Helen Sauls-August announced that costs for the State of the Province event would be cut from R5-million to R700 000.