Parliament’s future in Cape Town has again been called into question, with a new proposal for it to be moved to Gauteng.
During Tuesday’s debate on Parliament’s R1.763 billion budget, during which the institution came under severe criticism from opposition benches, a long-standing critic of its Cape Town location, ANC MP Vincent Smith, said it would work better if it was moved.
“South Africa is probably the only country worldwide where the seat of the legislature is more than 1 000km way from the seat of government,” he said.
Smith noted that MPs were frequently criticised for the expenses the current arrangement necessitated – such as flights, car-hire and accommodation.
Michael Bagraim, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in response on Wednesday he was “shocked to the core” that the issue had been raised again.
“It’s been debated repeatedly and proven, on every occasion, to be too costly and cumbersome.”
Bagraim warned that a host of highly qualified staff would have to be uprooted and there would be a “staggering” cost for new buildings.
Parliament’s seat in Cape Town has been challenged on a number of occasions in recent years – most recently last November, also by Smith.
Prior to that, in 2009, the issue was raised by President Kgalema Motlanthe, who said hosting itin Cape Town was an “expensive practice”.
Motlanthe said a ministerial task team looking to curb wasteful government spending was investigating its possible relocation and that its
report would go before the cabinet for consideration before any decision was taken.
No report followed, however, and no decision was taken
Cape Town Partnership’s Andrew Boraine said on Wednesday that Cape Town should never believe it had a right to host Parliament, but had continually to earn it. “Cape Town cannot be complacent,” he said. “It’s our job to make this an attractive city to everyone, including MPs and government.”
Boraine cautioned that a full analysis would need to be done to calculate precisely how much such a move could save, and its cost.
If ever Parliament did move, however, Boraine said there would be no shortage of takers for its properties.