Some opposition members of parliament have kicked against the relocation of parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria. This initiative re-surfaced again during the just concluded State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Presenting the matter, President Zuma said huge savings could be made if Parliament relocates, as government officials and cabinet ministers’ travel costs would be slashed, as well as hotel costs for officials attending meetings in Parliament.
‘‘A big expenditure item that we would like to persuade Parliament to consider is the maintenance of two capitals, Pretoria as the administrative one and Cape Town as the legislative capital. We believe that the matter requires the attention of Parliament soon.”
‘‘We all have a lot to do to turn the economy around and to cut wastage. We will go through a difficult period for a while, but when the economy recovers, we will be proud of ourselves for having done the right thing.
“The executive has looked into this matter and the cost is too big… because it means, particularly the executive, we must have two houses – one in Pretoria, one in Cape Town. We must have two cars, one in Pretoria, one in Cape Town,” said President Zuma.
It is imperative to note that moving the Parliament has been a contentious issue since the country had its first democratic election in 1994.
An economist Peter Attard Montalto, who agreed with Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) said, the country will spend R7bn to relocate the parliament, however, between R500m to R750m would be saved per year if implemented.
On Friday, Cosatu stated that what concerns the union most is the affairs of its members. The union maintained that the idea is good,“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,” the union federation said in a statement. “The estimated cost of moving Parliament is R7bn and we don’t know where such money would come from.”
“While we fully support cost cutting, it must not come at the expense of workers and their families,” said the union.
The executive secretary for the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Lawson Naidoo insinuated that moving the parliament to Pretoria would be “a huge capital cost involved in such a project”. He further argued, “What we would need to have is a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of such a move and also a good, hard look at the present system to see where cost savings could be made.”
Reacting, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille argued that what government needs to do is to cut down the size of the parliament, other than moving the parliament to Pretoria.
“The issue is not one of whether Parliament moves to Pretoria to cut government wastage. The key issue is that government is too big,” De Lille said.
“National government needs to cut the cabinet, and streamline and rationalise Parliament in order to save costs to the taxpayer and work more efficiently,” she said.
Lending his suggestion, the United Democratic Movement’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa opines that, “The solution really would lie in him reducing the size of the cabinet so that you don’t have a lot of ministers that have two cars in both provinces.”
Also, a member of The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Narend Singh postulated that the issue of relocating the parliament should not come come in at this time the country’s economy is drastically dropping.
“The two centres should be maintained until such time that there’s economic growth and until such time that problems within the South African economy are addressed,” said Singh.