A leaked report on the cost of moving parliament from Cape Town in the Western Cape, to Pretoria in Gauteng, shows that it will cost the country billions, while the Mother City would see thousands of job losses.

The report, seen by the Sunday Times, puts the cost of the move at R9 billion, with Cape Town losing around 3,000 professional jobs. Pretoria, meanwhile, would gain around 2,360 jobs, it said.

The leaked report is from a 2018 feasibility study done on moving parliament. Proposals for the move have been bandied about for the better part of a decade, gaining traction in the last year after the buildings in Cape Town were gutted by a fire.

Construction of a new parliament would cost R8.4 billion over five years, the Sunday Times reported, but this would be offset by savings of around R4.2 billion, which would have been spent on regular maintenance of the current precinct.

Because the report was based on data before the fire, it also doesn’t take into account the R2 billion that will now have to be spent to repair the damage incurred in January 2022.

The City of Cape Town has opposed the move, saying the loss of skills will do massive damage to its economy, arguing that in a post-Covid world with virtual meetings, the move has become unnecessary.

Proponents of the move want parliament – and access to it – closer to a larger number of people, with Cape Town being the furthest away from all provincial legislatures. They also argue that Cape Town’s biggest sectors, like tourism, are likely to be unaffected.

GDP losses by Cape Town would be gained by Pretoria, the study found.

Parliament said it is still studying the report, and no opinion or decision has been made.

In March 2021, the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management gave its support for parliament’s move to Pretoria.

Co-chairperson of the committee, Dikeledi Mahlangu, said at the time that although the committee is mindful of ‘certain onerous processes’ that still need to be followed before a move could take place, the committee was in full support of the idea.

The loss of Cape Town as South Africa’s legislative capital is not a new idea.The ANC first made the suggestion to move parliament to Pretoria in the 1990s, but was met with strong opposition from the provincial ANC in the Western Cape, who campaigned against it.

At the time, the cost to move parliament to Pretoria would have been R237 million. Conversely, the cost to move the country’s administration to Cape Town would have been R23.5 billion.

A revised breakdown of the costs published in 2016 saw the costs to move parliament rise to an amount of R7 billion – but it was expected that this would save the country between R500 million and R750 million a year in the future.

A 2019 analysis showed that the move would also mean uprooting 1,400 parliamentary staff and their families and would have a negative impact on Cape Town’s economy.

Read: South Africa is looking at moving parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria