Pressure to move Parliament north
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says ANC has withheld a report compiled in Mandela’s presidency outlining the costs of a relocation
Thulas Nxesi Nxesi was Gwen MahlanguNkabinde’s successor and the architect of the first interministerial report to clear Zuma of Nkandla misspending. That report was also thrown out of court by the president’s counsel
TMax Sisulu The former Speaker of the National Assembly did not retain the role after agreeing to an ad hoc committee in Parliament to inquire into a whitewashing of reports about Nkandla he ANC has for almost 20 years sat on a report that made proposals for the relocation of Parliament to Pretoria, a matter that has now been resuscitated in a bid to cut government spending and bolster an ailing economy.
This was confirmed by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe in an interview with City Press on Friday, a day after President Jacob Zuma instructed Parliament to look into the idea of relocating to save costs.
Zuma, under pressure to cut expenditure, said the maintenance of two capitals – Pretoria as the administrative one and Cape Town as the legislative capital – was “a big expenditure item”.
“We believe that the matter requires the attention of Parliament soon,” he said.
Radebe said the discussion had been on the table since late president Nelson Mandela’s tenure, and that it was a “matter of choice” that a commissioned report by auditing firm KPMG was left to gather dust.
Back in 1997, Mandela was clear when he announced that he believed South Africa should have one capital.
When the ANC first proposed the relocation of Parliament to Gauteng in the 1990s, the ANC in the Western Cape strongly opposed the idea and began a campaign against it.
Radebe headed the ANC national executive committee subcommittee on public works, which investigated the issue and whose outcomes supported the decision for Pretoria to become the legislative capital. It was backed strongly by then minister of transport Mac Maharaj and then provincial affairs and constitutional development minister Valli Moosa.
“It’s an old matter this one, it started during Mandela’s time. In fact, in the first Cabinet, I was chairing the committee that was looking at this issue of the two capitals. But at that time, for some reason, a decision could not be taken by government,” he said.
Asked why no decision had been made so many years down the line, Radebe said: “I can’t answer that question because the reports were there. I think it’s a matter of choice when it is the appropriate time to take a decision. My view is that there are other considerations over Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde The public works minister at the time the upgrades started put the cost of the upgrades at only R6.4 million in 2010. She was fired in 2011 for her role in a police leasing scandal Ben Martins After a short stint as minister of energy, he was axed for supporting his director-general, who insisted on an open tender for the nuclear power deal and above the financial considerations.”
Radebe said all the facts were contained in the KMPG report, which found that Parliament’s move to Pretoria, at an estimated cost of R237 million, would be cheaper than moving the country’s administration to Cape Town, which would cost R23.5 billion.
Meanwhile, Radebe said the matter can no longer be postponed.
Section 42 of the Constitution states that the seat of Parliament is in Cape Town, but an Act of Parliament may determine that the seat of Ngoako Ramatlhodi He served as mineral resources minister for just over a year before being replaced by Mosebenzi Zwane – who is allied to the powerful Gupta family Blade Nzimande The higher education minister and chair of the SA Communist Party (SACP) was threatened with axing through a reshuffle. The SACP has led the critique of the role of the Gupta family Parliament is elsewhere.
“Parliament has to take a decision because the issue of cost is a reality. It has become too expensive to maintain two capitals. But more than that, the efficiency of government is impacted by this travelling between Pretoria and Cape Town,” he said.
Radebe said Parliament would be the appropriate forum to take this matter forward.
Radebe said the KMPG report raised the point that the cost in financial terms of maintaining two capitals was very high. Under the bus, but was he pushed, or did he jump? Mxolisi Nxasana Former director of public prosecutions was axed after less than two years for not being malleable
“The efficiency of government was affected by the maintenance of these two provinces and therefore the recommendations were that there has to be a decision for one capital. That is the summary of that long report,” he said.
Moving Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria would reportedly cost R7 billion now, but would save between R500 million and R750 million a year, according to Nomura economist Peter Montalto.
Cosatu has questioned the move, saying the proposed relocation might sound good in principle, “but it cannot simply be based upon saving ministerial costs”.
“Moving Parliament would mean uprooting 1 400 parliamentary staff and their families from their homes,” it said. “The estimated cost of moving Parliament is R7 billion, and we don’t know where such money would come from. While we fully support cutting costs, it must not come at the expense of workers and their families.”
Montalto said the savings from the move would be “offset by the likely massive cost of building a new Parliament in Pretoria”.
“It would also likely take five to 10 years for net savings to be achieved,” he said.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said the issue was not whether Parliament moved to Pretoria to cut government wastage.
“The key issue is that government is too big,” she said. “National government needs to cut the Cabinet, and streamline and rationalise Parliament to save costs to the taxpayer, and to work more efficiently,” she said.
The move to Pretoria could have a negative affect on the Cape Town economy, said Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Friday.
“This has been a concern to local business for many years, but I hope we have reached a stage where the growth in the local economy, and particularly tourism, will enable us to take the blow,” she said.
“The centre of Cape Town is thriving and I hope we will be able to grow into the vacuum left by Parliament and its supporting services.”
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