Politicians react to planned R2-billion repairs to Parliament

Firefighters battle the fire at Parliament, Cape Town, on January 3, 2022. Picture: Phando Jikelo Independent Newspapers

Firefighters battle the fire at Parliament, Cape Town, on January 3, 2022. Picture: Phando Jikelo Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 5, 2024


Cape Town - Some political parties believe that the R2 billion planned for refurbishing Parliament could be better used.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Parliament said construction was set to start in the first quarter and conclude at the end of 2025, costing R2bn to repair the damaged buildings and an extra R118 million for unforeseen expenditure due to the fire.

“The previous Parliament buildings were designed to meet the specific, limited requirements of colonial and apartheid-era governance. However, the new Parliament building is being developed to effectively address the demands of a democratic era,” the statement read.

It said that this reconstruction presents an unparalleled opportunity to design spaces tailored to a democratic parliament’s needs and to modernise its digital infrastructure.

GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron said the amount must be opened to scrutiny.

GOOD Party’s Brett Herron.

“There’s no denying that R2bn is a lot of money and it is regrettable that this kind of money needs to be spent on the reconstruction of Parliament when there so many pressing needs in our country and while we are in an economic growth crisis.

“However, Parliament is the legislative and symbolic edifice of our democracy. Democracy is represented and practised in our Parliament and we must protect the practise of democracy.

“We have no choice but to rebuild the edifice of one of the most important ideals and systems of mankind. South Africa took a long and painful path to democracy and it is essential that our Parliament functions in a manner that honours that journey, and the many people who fought and died for it, by being fully functional, transparent and open to the public.

“Democracy also means that the R2bn being spent on the reconstruction project is open to scrutiny. We must be sure that this is the true cost of the reconstruction and that the costs are not padded by over-design or inflated pricing.”

The DA’s chief whip, Siviwe Gwarube, said: “Our main priorities with the rebuilding of Parliament are to ensure that this project is done within the two-year period; within the stipulated budget and ensure access to the full work of Parliament by the public during the process.

“The DA will be monitoring this process closely to ensure that public money is spent where it should be.“

DA chief whip in Parliament Siviwe Gwarube. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

Freedom Front Plus’s Wouter Wessels said: “The FF Plus believes that the fire could have been prevented and that incompetence and poor management were now costing taxpayers billions.

“We do, however, need a new National Assembly, but the costs should be contained given the current fiscal crisis.

“The R2bn could be better spent on infrastructure development and service delivery to get the economy going. The costs to rebuild should be contained, and no exploitation by contractors and inflated prices can be tolerated.”