Parliament fire

A roaring fire ravaged Parliament back in January – Image: City of Cape Town

No more Parliament in Cape Town? Relocation bid gains traction

Honourable members could soon be doing their squabbling on the other side of the country – and Parliament may soon change its location.

Parliament fire

A roaring fire ravaged Parliament back in January – Image: City of Cape Town

The location of Parliament could very well shift in the near future, as MPs will now get a chance to discuss moving the iconic assembly from Cape Town to Tshwane. With the main building in the Mother City still ‘years away’ from being fully restored, campaigners are sensing an opportunity.

Flames are seen rising from the Parliament building in Cape Town on 3 January 2022. – Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

Discussion on Parliament’s future to take place soon

The EFF are forcing the issue once more this week, and it seems that their persistence has paid off. House Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed earlier that the matter will soon be up for discussion – with formal talks about feasibility going ahead next Wednesday.

“We will find time next week to be presented with the report and for someone to talk to the issues only then it will be circulated. So please allow us to discuss the matter at the chief whips’ meeting. Then we can get a report afterwards.”

“The Minister of Public Works [Patricia de Lille] has been demanding the same report for purposes of presenting the matter to Cabinet so that they deal with the issues around the financial implications.” | Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

The arguments for AND against moving the National Assembly

The crux of the argument for those agitating for change is that Cape Town is itself an outlier. Many politicians elected to serve in Parliament are from Gauteng, KZN, and regions in the north-east of the country. As it stands, Parliament is located in the extreme south-west.

That means a large number of politicians are having to commute to Cape Town for dozens of sittings a year. Costs for accommodation and living expenses also don’t take long to pile up. Moving Parliament to Tshwane, it is argued, will cut down on these bills.

However, one report claims that around 1 500 staff members at the site would have to relocate from the Western Cape. Either outcome is fraught with drawbacks, and buoyed by possible advantages. Next week, MPs will get the chance to discuss these factors in full.