A report compiled to investigate the costs of moving Parliament to Pretoria has been gathering dust since it was commissioned by late former president Nelson Mandela in 1997.
During his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma called for Parliament to “urgently investigate” the practicality of having two capitals in South Africa.
South Africa currently has three main capital cities – Pretoria as the administrative capital, and Cape Town as the legislative capital. Bloemfontein acts as the judicial capital of the country.
“We would like to persuade Parliament to consider the maintenance of two capitals – Pretoria as the administrative, and Cape Town as the legislative…we believe that the matter requires the attention of Parliament soon,” Zuma said.
The president argued that, with capitals on two opposite ends of the country, members of the executive needed two houses and two cars in order to do their duties, which was an unnecessary cost.
However, this call is nothing new – in fact, a plan has been around for almost 20 years, according to a report by the City Press.
The ANC first made the suggesting to move Parliament to Pretoria in the 1990s, but was met with strong opposition from the ANC in the Western Cape, who campaigned against it.
At the time, the cost to move Parliament to Pretoria would have been R237 million – while the cost to move the country’s administration to Cape Town would have cost R23.5 billion.
According to the City Press, the cost to move parliament now would amount to R7 billion – but this would save the country between R500 million and R750 million a year in the future.
Making the move would mean uprooting 1,400 parliamentary staff and their families, and would have a negative impact on Cape Town’s economy, according to analysts.