Centurion would be the best area to house the country’s parliament because it is easily accessible.
This is according to MTO Town Planners director Mauritz Oosthuizen, who was reacting to the announcement by Speaker Baleka Mbete who told members of parliament that a service provider had been appointed to conduct a feasibility study on moving the national legislature to Pretoria.
Mbete said Pamoja (Pty) Ltd had also been appointed to conduct a six-month socioeconomic and impact study starting this month.
Oosthuizen says when parliament considers the move to the capital city, government first needs to identify vacant land should they want to erect a new building.
“Alternatively, an old government building could be renovated and refurbished. However, Centurion would be the best place if there is available land.”
He said Centurion was close to the N1 highway and is in close proximity to the Waterkloof Air Force Base, various hotels and restaurants.
“If government’s plan of building a convention centre does not pan out, Centurion is a great place to erect parliament.”
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga said it would be premature for him to comment on a feasibility study of moving parliament. He said according to Section 42(6) of the constitution, this determination rests with parliament.
“Nevertheless, I think it would be an expensive exercise given the fiscal climate in which the country finds itself.
“But ultimately this decision rests squarely with parliament and, whatever the national legislature decides following an exhaustive feasibility study, we will enter into engagements at that point.”
Real estate experts said if parliament moved to Pretoria, there would be a high demand for property and prices might rise.
One expert said it would be of great benefit to the property market as a whole, depending on where parliament would relocate to – Pretoria or Centurion.
Another said with any new and big development came a rise in prices for other developments, such as in the case of Menlyn Maine Casino.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said the budget for moving parliament would run into billions.
This is not the first proposal to relocate the National Assembly from Cape Town to Pretoria. It was first communicated in 1995, but was shelved after strong opposition from the governing ANC in the Western Cape.
What this move will mean:
- A member of parliament currently has two houses and two cars but when parliament moves to Pretoria, they will no longer need a house and car in Cape Town;
- One seat of government would also save on travel costs and time.
Various departments had previously been allocated responsibility to do feasibility studies on the matter, in 1995, 1997 and 2011.
- The department of public works was tasked by Cabinet to investigate the merits of relocation;
- National Treasury was tasked with looking into the financial and budgetary implications;
- The department of justice and constitutional development was looking at legislative requirements and processes;
- The department of public service and administration was looking into the administrative and human capital implications;
- The transport department was looking into the logistics and transport implications;
- The SA Police Service was leading an investigation into the safety implications;
- The department of labour was looking at the human resource implications;
- Public works was also looking at accommodation service to parliament, and it did a needs analysis and the space audits conducted in the 2006/07 financial year.