King Goodwill Zwelithini’s recent illness will prevent him opening KZN legislature
The KwaZulu-Natal legislature has had to break tradition and forgo King Goodwill Zwelithini’s opening address owing to his frail health.
The premier of the province will deliver a hybrid state of the province (Sopa) address at the legislature prescient with only 50 guests.
Speaker of the legislature Nontembeko Boyce announced on Wednesday that what is usually a two-day event, with a budget capped at R2.5m, will be a one day event, with projected costs of R500,000.
“On Tuesday, the speaker received a letter informing the legislature that on medical advice his majesty will not be able to address the house,” said Boyce.
The opening of the legislature has been a two-day occasion in which the first day includes an address by the king and the Sopa on the second day.
Earlier this month, the king was admitted to ICU after “several unstable glucose readings”.
There has been a veil of secrecy on the status of the king’s health since.
Boyce said due to Covid-19 adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations, only 50 participants will be allowed inside the house on Friday when premier Sihle Zikalala delivers the Sopa.
“The address will be held in a hybrid mode. Participants representing the judiciary, the executive and the legislature will be physically present and the rest of the members will connect virtually.”
The address will also be streamed live via social media platforms and several radio stations.
“As an arm of government responsible for overseeing the spending and value add of departments, we are very alive to ensuring we focus on efficiencies and effectiveness and what is economical.
“We are proud to indicate that this year we anticipate the costs to not exceed R500,000. These costs entail audiovisual setup, media buying and travelling for those members who will physically attend,” Boyce explained.
According to the speaker, in previous years the number of guests was between 1,500 and 2,000, but last year was reduced to 1,200.
“Under normal circumstances we budget R2.5m for the official opening. We anticipate that savings realised through the hybrid modality will be utilised to offset cuts anticipated for the 2021/2022 financial year.”