Parliament will in the coming months consider a study on moving parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria, says speaker of the national assembly, Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula.

Presenting her budget speech on Tuesday (7 June), Mapisa-Nqakula said the proposed move is being given additional consideration after a fire gutted the houses of parliament at the start of the year.

“The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has appointed an independent company (Coega) to assess the damages caused by the fire. Parliament will study the reports submitted after the assessment and a decision will be made on the best way forward.”

Currently, the Good-Hope Chamber is being used to house the sittings of the National Assembly, but there still remains a need to create additional space to accommodate full sittings for all members of the national assembly and the joint sittings of parliament, she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula added that parliament is considering various options for alternative accommodation for sittings.

“We will also receive a presentation of the feasibility study which was conducted in 2018, on the relocation of Parliament from its current premises in Cape Town. The report will be shared with members of parliament before a decision is taken on the future seat of parliament.”

Mapisa-Nqakula’s comments come after the opposition EFF leader Julius Malema announced plans to introduce the Relocation of Parliament Bill in the coming weeks.

In an explanatory memorandum gazetted at the end of May, Malema said parliament’s current location in Cape Town creates several problems for MPs and other politicians due to its current location.

“Parliament is located in the farthest province from the majority of provinces, making it inaccessible to the majority of South Africans, including members of parliament who spend a significant amount of time travelling to and from parliament.

As a result, participation in parliamentary programs is limited to individuals and institutions with financial resources, excluding those unable to travel to Cape Town, he said.

“Parliament and the government spend a lot of money on travel and lodging for members of parliament, the executive, the government, and state officials in order to keep colonial agreements that separate administrative and legislative capital in two cities by racist colonisers who excluded the majority of black people and still does so today.”

While recent fire damage has renewed focus on a potential move, shifting parliament to Pretoria has been mooted for more than two decades.

Most recently, in February 2021, the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management supported parliament’s move to Pretoria.

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