National Assembly speaker and ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete has addressed the speculations and confusion around who is behind the “Speaker’s Ball”, which will be held on Thursday evening after President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).
In a statement released by the governing party on Wednesday, Mbete said the event was a private dinner hosted by the speaker of the National Assembly for stakeholders, colleagues, friends and comrades.
“This dinner is not hosted nor funded by neither the African National Congress nor Parliament. It is a private dinner,” she said.
Mbete said the event was an annual ball that was hosted for the first time in 2016 as an annual meeting and networking opportunity.
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The ANC statement was adamant the ball was not linked to the party and the only event it was hosting was the “People’s Assembly” on the Grand Parade for about 10 000 party supporters, where Zuma is expected to attend the rally to discuss “radical economic transformation”.
Parliament over the last three year, under Mbete’s instruction, has not hosted any post-Sona dinner as part of the national legislature’s cost-cutting measures. It has been reported that Parliament’s budget for this year has been cut by R500 000, down to R4 million.
“In this regard, it would be both unimaginable and improbable for the speaker’s event to then be funded by the institution. Any insinuation to this effect is rejected with the contempt it deserves,” the ANC said.