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Government budget for state funerals and functions slashed by R11m over three years

25 May 2021 - 18:06 By nonkululeko njilo
Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille announced plans to reduce spending on government events. File photo.
Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille announced plans to reduce spending on government events. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

The government has announced plans to reduce its spending on events, including states visits and funerals, by R11m in the next three years. 

Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille made the revelation during her budget vote on Tuesday.

“Under the new prestige programmes for government functions, state visits and funerals will reduce from R94m in 2021/22 to R83m in 2023/24. The department is continuing to implement austerity measures, mainly for state functions, hence the decreasing budget over the medium term for this programme,” she said.

In 2020, De Lille ordered law enforcement officials to lay fraud charges against Crocia Events, the company which staged the funerals of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Zola Skweyiya and Billy Modise, who all died in 2018, for allegedly inflating their invoices. The funerals cost taxpayers R76m, which the department said was a rip-off.

De Lille also detailed how her department would reduce energy consumption by between 22% and 45%, and reduce water consumption by between 30% and 55%. This, she said, equated to an estimated saving of up to R500bn over 30 years.

“Further, this programme will reduce carbon emissions by 54.5 megatonnes,” she said.

The departmental budget allocation for the next three financial years was R25.5bn, and the allocation for this financial year is R8.3bn.

Among other priorities, De Lille announced that R1.18bn had been allocated for the infrastructure, environment, culture and social sectors through integrated grant incentives for provinces and municipalities, with an estimated 81,850 work opportunities provided.

While the majority of MPs rallied behind the budget, some gave De Lille a lashing for her department’s failures.

IFP MP Mthokozisi Nxumalo singled out De Lille’s inaction over the Beitbridge border fence saga.

“Despite the magnitude of this controversy, we still see slow consequence management regarding this controversial project, clearly reflecting government’s attitude. Scopa is still demanding answers and has requested state security agencies to provide a report on the vetting of the department’s supply chain management officials.

“We cannot allow the department to simply continue on this path of non-compliance with laws and prescripts,” said Nxumalo.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa came to the minister’s rescue and applauded her efforts to turn around the department.

“Honorable minister, I wish you all the best in sorting out the mess you inherited from the previous ministers,” he said.