A ONE-day event for Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet to deliver her annual state of the province (Sopa) speech in a tent has cost taxpayers millions of rands.

This year the speech on February 22, held on the lawns of the Bhisho Legislature, cost government R2.9-million. The money was spent on hiring seven tents, catering and to entertain invited guests. Tents and sound alone cost R1.8-millon.

For the past four years the event has been hosted in a tent on the legislature grounds, costing the government a total of R10-million during that time.

Three years ago the provincial government spent R13-million revamping the legislature chambers, increasing its seating capacity to 600 and installing modern recording equipment.

It is not clear why government stopped using the legislature chambers to host Sopa.

Documents seen by the Dispatch and according to sources close to the event’s management team, the procurement of these goods did not go out to tender.

The tender has also been awarded to the same company for the past four years and may bring the legislature in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

Opposition political parties have event on Kiviet’s calendar as it was an opportunity for her to set out her priorities and targets for the year ahead.

“The total expenditure for the 2013 Sopa amounted to over R2.9-million. This is inclusive of all services rendered, namely tents, catering and sound system,” she said.

“An advertisement was placed in the Daily Dispatch dated 30 November 2012, inviting suitable service providers to submit bids.

“The tents and PA system for the 2013 State of the Province were indeed awarded to the same company, as this was part of the tender requirements,” she said.

The legislature seems to have a knack for extravagant parties.

Last December it splashed out more than R390 000 for a lavish party to celebrate the end of the year.

The event, held in Bhisho on December 7, was coordinated by Xasa’s office.

In the 2011-12 financial year the provincial government spent close to R1-billion on, among other things, subsistence and travel, catering and venues.

The DA yesterday asked the legislature management to reveal the names of those who benefited from the expenditure.

“We have been demanding to know who benefited from this expenditure for months but to no avail. All we are requesting as the opposition is accountability,” MPL Veliswa Mvenya said. —