Plan to relocate parliament to Pretoria gets pushback

The EFF argues that relocating parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria would save taxpayers money as many people are unable to attend meetings of the assembly, council, or committee.

A plan by the EFF to relocate the parliament permanently to Tshwane was met with opposition by rival political parties, citing affordability issues, when it was proposed last Thursday.

This was during the first debate for the relocation of the seat of the parliament bill led by EFF leader Julius Malema to make Tshwane the administrative and legislative home of the country.

The relocation of parliament has come up in parliamentary debates for several years.

Malema argued that the current parliament had to redress agreements made during apartheid.

“Many people cannot afford to travel to Cape Town to participate in any of the assembly, council, or committee meetings.”

About 250 entities attached to the government spend resources travelling from areas such as Tshwane to account to Parliament, which is not sustainable.

According to the EFF, Tshwane was regarded as a city that was accessible to all community members and that would uphold democracy.

“We continue to receive oral submissions from the same individuals, and the voices of the public are marginalised due to the location of this institution,” he said.

“Parliament has become a playground for associations, private sector unions, and NGOs.”

He said the relocation of the parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria would save taxpayers money in allocations of flights to members of parliament, their partners and dependents while bringing down the maintenance cost for parliamentary villages and the homes of ministers in Cape Town.

Plan to relocate parliament to Pretoria gets pushback
Parliament was ablaze in January 2022. Photo: GCIS

During the debate, DA MP Dr Annelie Lotriet said the relocation of parliament needed to be supported by comprehensive studies on financial and staffing implications.

She said the last study was in 2018.

“The relocation will require not only the construction of a new parliamentary precinct but residential accommodation for members.”

Lotriet further suggested that the cabinet be cut down to create an efficient government.

IFP MP Narend Singh said it was desirable to have the legislative and administrative branches in the same area, but said that the facilities provided were not adequate to meet the assembly’s requirements.

He said that fixing the parliament building, which was damaged in a fire in January 2022, would cost about R3b.

“Relocation figures, however, run into about R14b.”

Sigh said parliament could not afford the relocation, and the EFF had brought the bill at the worst possible time.

The FF Plus said that relocation didn’t take several factors into account since all of parliament’s office bearers and employees would have to be relocated and resettled if such a move took place.

“The bill does not account for this at all. Parliament has approximately 1 300 employees. If its officials are added to that number, it is probably about 2 000. These people will have to relocate their families at great cost—with school fees, new school clothes, and numerous other factors that are not considered.

“It is also given that the existing buildings of parliament, which were damaged in a fire, will have to be repaired. The estimated cost to do that is R2b, however, the actual cost will probably amount to much more.”

The FF Plus said the argument put forth by the EFF about the high travel costs of members of parliament “held no water”.

It said that parliament’s committees could continue with their work in a hybrid manner.

“The EFF likes to boast about its concern for ordinary employees. But in this case, they are the ones being overlooked. The FF Plus does not support the bill.”

Parliament was ablaze on January 2, 2022, for at least three days.

The fire ravaged five floors of the building and the adjacent Old Assembly Wing, collapsing the roof and destroying hundreds of offices that housed members of parliament and staff.

But this was not parliament’s first experience with fire, as in March 2021, an electrical fault in the Old Assembly building resulted in a blaze.

Moving parliament to the capital city has been under discussion since 1994.

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