A Private Member’s Bill on the relocation of Parliament could be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure.
Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso told the Programming Committee during a meeting on Thursday, that the bill has to be debated in the National Assembly before it is sent to the relevant parliamentary committees.
“At this point the view is that [the bill] would go to the Public Works Committee, but it is a matter that we are still discussing with legal [services].
“Even before it gets to be referred a committee, there is a step that it must go through which is the first reading debate. Once it has been debated, without a decision obviously then it must go to a committee,” he said.
It is unclear, however, when the debate will take place.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema submitted the bill to Parliament last week.
Earlier this year, the EFF revived the relocation matter following the fire that damaged parliamentary buildings and called for the feasibility study to be released in preparation for its Private Member’s Bill.
Pamoja (Pty) Ltd was appointed in 2018, to conduct a socio-economic impact study on the relocation of Parliament to Tshwane.
The company handed over a report on the study to Parliament in January 2022.
Private Member’s Bill
In the bill, the EFF said Parliament’s current location has created “several problems for MPs, the Cabinet, government and officials from organs of state and the broader society that wished to participate in legislative and oversight functions performed by the national legislature”.
“Parliament is located in the farthest province from the majority of provinces. This makes it inaccessible to the majority of South Africans, including MPs, who spend a significant amount of time travelling to and from Parliament,” the document reads.
The EFF has long argued that the relocation of Parliament to “a central space” will save government money.
“As a result, 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 the administrative and legislative capital in two cities by racist colonisers who excluded the majority of black people and still do so today.”
According to the draft legislation, government would spend just over R8 billion on traveling and housing if Parliament was to be moved to Tshwane.
“This is an extremely low estimate,” the document further reads.
The bill also states that no less than R4.2 billion would be spent on the parliamentary precinct for renovation and refurbishment.
“Before the 2022 Parliament fire, a R4.2 billion refurbishment and renovation estimate was made in May 2019. According to the Department of Public Works, it will cost at least R2 billion.”
“It will cost at least R14 billion to retain Parliament in Cape Town. A new Parliament precinct in the City of Tshwane is estimated to require R7 billion, and the move will save the fiscus more than R7 billion in the short to medium term.”
Read the bill below:
According to a 2016 report, the cost to move Parliament could amount to R7 billion, but it also expected to save the country between R500 million and R750 million a year in the future.
A 2019 study also found that the move would also mean uprooting 1 400 parliamentary staff and their families.
Last month, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that Parliament would receive R2 billion to restore the parliamentary buildings following the devastating fire in January.
The damage of the 2 January blaze that devastated the National Assembly and severely damaged the Old Assembly wing revived calls for Parliament’s relocation.
The national legislature will also receive another R118 million to deal with interim relocation costs and to prepare for its refurbishment.
Parliament had asked National Treasury for the funds in light of the “unforeseen and urgent expenditure”.
The money will be used for preparation for next year’s State of the Nation Address, budget address and members’ offices, according to the Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George.