“We incidentally just received a formal letter from the Democratic Alliance telling us that this would constitute wasteful expenditure, that they are going to try to mobilise other political parties to follow suit and we get that letter today, two days before the function,” he told reporters on preparations for the opening of Parliament.
“We would have liked to have this information last year so that we don’t put them in the number for purposes of preparation. They have in fact led to serious wasteful expenditure in Parliament. They must account for it.
“If we had our way we would ask them to pay for every plate, three-course or whatever courses number is, because they did not let us know in advance. It is a very bad one.”
He added that Parliament was sensitive to the broader point the official opposition was trying to make about not wasting state resources, but believed the party should not “yourself contribute to it”.
DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said he only learnt last week that a dinner would be hosted for 500 guests at Parliament after President Jacob Zuma’s speech. The party immediately stated that its MPs would not attend.
“The first time we heard about this was last Thursday in the Chief Whip’s forum and we took a decision that we would not attend and that was communicated,” he said.
“So it is completely disingenuous.”
Steenhuisen said the disagreement underscored the DA’s complaint that opposition parties were not involved in the planning of the speech.