President Jacob Zuma says various government departments are currently assessing the pros and cons of moving Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria.
The President said an interdepartmental task team was set up to consider different aspects and implications of moving the legislative arm of the State to the capital city.
He said this during a question and answer session at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.
Mntomuhle Khawula, a member of the NCOP from KwaZulu-Natal, had asked the President if engagements and debates to move Parliament to Pretoria had started following his remarks during the 2016 State of the Nation Address as a way of reducing costs.
“In preparations for engagement with Parliament, the Department of Public Works was tasked by Cabinet to further investigate the merits of relocation.
“An interdepartmental task team, comprising government departments that contribute to the optimal functioning of Parliament, was also constituted.
“The task team comprises a few departments with specific tasks,” President Zuma said.
The President said while these processes are underway, the final decision to relocate Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria lies squarely within the ambit of Parliament, not the executive.
He said National Treasury was looking at the financial and budgetary implications of the proposed move, while the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is focusing on the legislative requirements and processes.
The Department of Public Service and Administration was looking into the administrative and human capital implications, while the Department of Transport is assessing logistics and transport implications.
“The South African Police Service is looking into the security and safety implications, while the Department of Labour is investigating the human resource implications.
“Importantly, the Department of Public Works, as a custodian of public infrastructure and an accommodation service department to Parliament, is also engaging with Parliament on a review of previous needs analysis and the space audits conducted in 2006/07.
“Also being looked at are the needs of Parliament, including the space requirements for residential accommodation for Members of Parliament, parliamentary office bearers and leaders as well as administrative support staff,” President Zuma said.
He said an examination of the costs of upgrading the existing Parliamentary precinct to meet the current space requirements, and those of constructing a new Parliamentary precinct in Pretoria are also being done.
Government was also examining the benefits and challenges that are likely to follow from the change of the seat of Parliament.
“This is informed by preliminary socio-economic impact studies done by the Department of Public Works as part of normal feasibility studies done in considering State accommodation options.
“The preliminary analysis continues to point to the same conclusions derived from previous studies in 1995, 1997 and 2011. These indicated that in the long term, the cost to relocate the legislative authority from Cape Town to Pretoria will be significantly less than maintaining the status quo,” he said.
He said, however, that the negative impact of the big move includes the potential loss of income for the City of Cape Town and potential job losses in the finance and business sectors providing services to Parliament.
“There are also indications that should the relocation to Pretoria be given effect, a significant portion of the redundant State-owned accommodation serving the Parliamentary function could be appropriated by accommodating various other government departments.”
Minister Gordhan innocent until proven guilty
Meanwhile, the President said with the country faced with the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality, the stability of the country’s economy was critical.
He said government was currently working together with labour and business to stabilise the economy.
“The recent events regarding allegations, and lately charges preferred by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) against the Minister of Finance are a concern to all of us, including the investor communities.
“As Cabinet, we have expressed our full support of the Minister, while respecting the independence of law enforcement and prosecution authorities.
“The Minister has also received public support from various stakeholders in the country since the announcement of the charges, including business, religious leaders and community organisations.
“The support is being expressed because of the belief in the rule of law and in the fact that the Minister has not been found guilty of any crime. He is innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law like all citizens.”