Parliament one step closer to finding a new home

Parliament. Photo: Supplied by GCIS.

Parliament. Photo: Supplied by GCIS.

The public works department has identified possible construction sites for the relocation of parliament.

Following a parliamentary question for Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi from the EFF’s Leigh-Ann Mathys regarding the status of the possibility of moving parliament, it has been revealed that the public works department has identified possible construction sites for the relocation of parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria.

However, according to Nxesi, the construction sites could not be confirmed until the secretary to parliament had signed off on the accommodation requirements for the national legislature reports The Star.

“For this to happen, parliament must give guidance and take the decision to move the parliamentary precinct away from Cape Town and also legally pronounce Tshwane as the seat of parliament by way of proposing a constitutional amendment on Tshwane/Pretoria as the new legislative capital of the Republic of South Africa,” said Nxesi in a written response.

Though the move has been the talk of the town for close to a decade, it only started to gain traction back in 2016 when then-president Jacob Zuma said in his state of the nation speech that Pretoria might become the new home for parliament, as the costs of keeping SA’s legislature in Cape Town were too high.

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According to The Star, Zuma estimated that the government could save billions of rands if the country’s administrative and legislative capitals were in the same place and they did not have to spend money flying and accommodating government officials and politicians.

In May 2018, parliament appointed a service provider to conduct a feasibility study on moving the national legislature to Pretoria.

While opening a debate on parliament’s budget, house speaker Baleka Mbete said: “With respect to the proposal of relocating parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria, an external service provider, Pamoja PTY LTD, has been appointed to conduct a 6-month socio-economic and impact study commencing this month.

“This is a matter that we will hand over to the 6th parliament,” she added.

It is this feasibility study that would inform parliament’s decision, explained Nxesi in his response, before adding that the relocation of parliament from its seat in Cape Town was primarily the responsibility of parliament itself and that his department was merely playing a supporting role.

Nxesi also said his department was responsible for the enhancement of feasibility and socio-economic impact studies, and to outline possible accommodation solutions.

If the project is deemed feasible once the study is concluded, Nxesi’s department will assist with the investigation, planning, and implementation thereof.

A report on the study was due to be delivered to parliament in January 2019 but according to parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo, it has not yet been concluded for reasons that have not yet been made available to the press.

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