Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
6 Jan 2022
3:07 pm

ANC makes a U-turn over using Cape Town’s venues for Sona 2022

Molefe Seeletsa

The ANC caucus has also changed its tune about moving Parliament to Pretoria, saying it was matter that has not yet been resolved.

A general view of preparations for the State of The Nation Address by the President at the Parliament building on February 12, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images/Beeld/Jaco Marais

The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament has suddenly changed their minds about using the City of Cape Town’s facilities to host this year’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) and might be accepting the DA’s offer.

The ANC caucus changed its tune on Wednesday, after having initially rejected Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis’s offer to use alternative venues for Sona following the fire that has left Parliament damaged.

Hill-Lewis had offered the City of Cape Town’s Council Chamber to be used for sittings in the National Assembly, while the Grand Parade and City Hall would be available to host Sona.

ALSO READ: Parliament fire: Expert explains why repairs could take ‘many months’

The ANC slammed the “Democratic Alliance (DA)-led” efforts , labelling the proposal as “highly opportunistic” and “a political ploy”.

But the party has since reversed its tune, saying all facilities available should be used “to serve the interests of the people”.

“All available public facilities should be utilised as and when available to carry out national duties. 

“Such public facilities regardless of the sphere of their location remain state resources in the hands of the people and should be used to serve the interests of the people,”  the office of ANC’s chief whip, Pemmy Majodina, said in their second statement on Wednesday.

Fire contained

The fire, which broke out on Sunday, affected both the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly Wing of the buildings of Parliament, which house the chambers of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

While the fire flare-up has since been contained, it has left parts of the New Assembly “completely gutted” after a new blaze broke out on Monday afternoon.

Other venues will have to be utilised as parliamentary programmes – including the 2022 Sona and budget speech – will go ahead as planned, according to National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Parliament relocation

The ANC caucus also changed its tune regarding the relocation of Parliament to Gauteng.

The party on Wednesday said there is no need to move the National Assembly to Pretoria after the fire at Parliament.

However, now it says “the old debate” about relocating Parliament was a matter that has not yet been resolved “in terms of the Constitution”.

The ANC said the move “would be premature and wrong to jump on the bandwagon for cheap publicity”.

“At the moment, the issue is not a priority for the ANC parliamentary caucus,” it added.

READ MORE: Parliament fire suspect’s attorney accuses the government of making him scapegoat

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  earlier this week revived calls for the relocation of Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria.

The EFF insisted that the money that will be allocated for repairs to the building should be spent on the relocation instead.

This is not the first time the EFF has suggested the idea of moving Parliament.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, in a tweet, also supported the relocation of Parliament, saying the move would make sense “financially and politically”.