AfriForum condemns the decision by the presidency to press on with today’s exorbitant inauguration ceremony. In spite of the presidency’s reassurance that taxpayers have to cough up R100 million less than for the previous presidential inauguration, R120 million still is an enormous amount to spend on a one-off and unnecessary ceremony such as this.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, minister in the presidency, has said the presidency has a “tight budget” for this year’s inauguration.

“South Africa’s current economic situation nevertheless does not justify the enormous costs of this ceremony. It is logical that when one’s money is tight, one first cuts on luxuries, which is exactly what the inauguration is. The reasoning of the presidency that people have to be bused to the inauguration to share in the festivities, furthermore is manipulative because these funds could be put to better use to improve ordinary people’s lives instead of to entertain them for one day,” said Natasha Venter, campaign officer at AfriForum.

AfriForum this month also submitted numerous letters of protest from residents across the country against the president’s request for municipalities to transport thousands of people to the presidential inauguration to the national and provincial departments of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta). The civil rights organisation also sent a letter in this regard to the presidency. Meanwhile, Dlamini-Zuma has indicated that no fewer than 32 000 people have been bused from several provinces to Loftus Versfeld stadium for today’s inauguration.

In addition, police minister Bheki Cele has made 2 500 members of the police available for the presidential inauguration to ensure the safety of those attending it. This while there have been 170 farm attacks and 20 farm murders this year already and the police force has not been mobilised for preventive action in this regard.

“If South Africa’s government can waste even more money of debt-ridden taxpayers on a frivolous gathering such as this, we have to begin asking ourselves what else the government will be capable of to continue its extravagance,” Venter concluded.

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