Statement by the Speaker of the KZN Legislature
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Mluleki Ndobe
The Secretary of the Legislature, Ms Nerusha Naidoo
Members of the media
We would like to start by thanking each one of you for responding so positively to our invitation to this morning’s press briefing wherein we seek to update you on key developments in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the past three weeks, the leadership of the legislature has been seized with critical consultations with all pertinent stakeholders regarding the Official Opening of KZN Legislature. Our stakeholders include His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Mr Sihle Zikalala and leaders of all political parties represented in the Legislature. We are excited that all the stakeholders are fully on board and we are ready to officially commence with the annual programme of our Legislature
The event, as has been the tradition over the years, is a two-day occasion that commences with the official opening of the Legislature His Majesty and culminates into the State of the Province Address (SOPA). Due to space constraints at the current Legislature precinct, we have been holding this event at the Royal Showgrounds and that will continue to be the case this year.
However, we are excited that the construction of the new government precinct, which includes the Legislature, is firmly back on the agenda as this will give a lasting solution to needs of a modern legislature such as ours.
The opening of the legislature by His Majesty the King demonstrates our respect for the institution of traditional leadership in KwaZulu-Natal. His Majesty, As the Head of traditional leadership in the province, represents the unity of the people of KwaZulu-Natal. It is against this backdrop that the Standing Rules of the Legislature (Rule 9) provide for an address by His Majesty to officially mark the commencement of the annual programme of the Legislature.
It is for this reason that we reject unwarranted attacks against His Majesty that seek to reduce the pivotal role that he plays. As the Legislature, we wish to state it categorically that we work well with His Majesty and that his guidance and counsel he provides to the legislature and government is invaluable.
Ladies and gentlemen, during SOPA, the Premier will expand on practical steps to be taken by government in its quest to propel the province to greater heights. The SOPA will, among other things, focus on the provincial government’s seven key priorities which include: job creation, improving the delivery of services, growing the economy, human settlements and sustainable livelihood.
Let me now deal with issue of costs for hosting both the official opening and SOPA which have often sought to dilute the good work we do as the Legislature. I really must state that we are concerned when costs escalate and all avenues and interventions have been employed to reduce the costs.
We are proud that this year we have been able to cut costs by nearly one million rand for the opening of the legislature through the reduction of number of people who attend both events. The Office of the Premier is busy compiling figures for SOPA and we are confident that there will also be major savings. We would have saved even more had we hosted the events at the legislature complex which proved impossible as the results of the renovations currently taking place.
Amongst high profile guests expected to attend both events include the King, former President Jacob Zuma, Speakers of other provincial legislatures, members of parliament, diplomates, religious leaders, members of the Royal Household, mayors, amakhosi, councillor and community leaders.
Ladies and gentlemen, over and above the two events mentioned above, we believe an exciting year awaits us in our quest to deliver on the mandate bestowed on us by the People of KwaZulu-Natal. I would like to share with you the following highlights with an undertaking that we will engage with members of the media at least quarterly to update you on the work of the Legislature.
Provincial Budget Speech
The Treasury MEC will table the Provincial Budget on the 06th March followed by Budget Policy Speeches of all provincial governments including the Legislature to be concluded towards the end of April. All other activities of the Legislature will ensue as was the case in previous years. These include the following: –
a) International Women’s Day at King Cetshwayo District towards the end of March
b) The Interfaith Symposium will be held on the 21st and 22nd April in Ilembe District
c) The Workers’ Parliament will take place on the 7th and 08th May in Umgungundlovu District
d) The Youth Parliament on 17th and 18th June in Harry Gwala District
e) Women’s Parliament 7th and 08th August in Ugu District
f) Senior Citizens’ Parliament on 2nd and 3rd October in uThukela District
g) TLTP on the 3rd and 4th November in Ethekwini Metro and;
h) Disability Parliament on 4th and 5th December in Umzinyathi