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

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI and FIN24 hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­ Zwelinz­ima Vavi

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.”

Do you think Par­lia­ment should move to Pre­to­ria or stay in Cape Town?

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han flies with the or­di­nary peo­ple

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