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Parliament restoration not yet on the cards - Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 23, 2022

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Cape Town - National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the restoration of the two buildings gutted by fire in Parliament in January was not yet on the cards.

This as the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) says it will treat Parliament as a priority in efforts to restore the buildings gutted by fire earlier this year.

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The National Prosecution Authority (NPA) is also set to make a decision on whether the man accused of arson, Zandile Christmas Mafe, will be charged for violating the National Heritage Act.

On Friday, Parliament heard that the extent of damage, the cost of the damage and the restoration costs were pending a final report by Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

“Restoration process can only be a discussion by Parliament once we have received the final report from Coega and have clarity on what it is we are to do as Parliament.

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“For now it is very difficult as long as the work of Coega is not completed,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said when she received the final report, which was expected last Friday, it would be presented to presiding officers of Parliament.

“We are committed to continue to work with Parliament, but we do accept that the executive authority has got the final say after the final report on the way forward,” De Lille said.

Mapisa-Nqakula also said Parliament was in a process of establishing an advisory team consisting of engineers to advise them on the report from CDC.

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“As DPWI makes presentations to us through Coega, there will be terminology, language or issues which we may not understand as executive authority of Parliament, including the management of Parliament.

“We still need technical experts to assist us as Parliament. That is a process underway now by the acting secretary of Parliament,” she said.

The devastating fire has left a number of MPs without offices.

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De Lille said 201 offices of MPs have been affected and five of the presiding officers and 193 MPs in the National Assembly and 13 delegates to the National Council of Provinces.

A total of 184 offices for the support staff were affected by the fire.

She also said Parliament did an assessment and was able to swap some of the administrative staff offices for MPs.

“Chairperson and deputy of NCOP will be accommodated on the seventh floor in 120 Plein Street – eight offices were made available.

“We made office space available on the second and twelfth floors of Parliamentary Towers and some offices on the sixth floor in 90 Plein Street. Most members have been resettled,” De Lille said.

According to Sahra, the structural damage caused to the parliamentary building was quite extensive.

“The entire roof of the Old Assembly has been destroyed and the wooden beams that support the structure of the National Assembly have been severely affected,” said Sahra’s built environment manager Ben Mwasinga.

“Any action that needs to be taken in Parliament, Sahra treats them as priority and we will continue to do so.

“In as much as this is a priority we must remain compliant in terms of legislation. Sahra remains open and we will provide as much assistance as we can,” Mwasinga said.

Meanwhile, head of Hawks Godfrey Lebeya said there were still outstanding forensic reports to finalise the police investigation as well as the final damage report from DPWI.

“Once all the reports have been received the case will probably be taken to the high court for the purposes of trial,” Lebeya said.

Mwasinga said the National Heritage Act made a provision for criminal procedures for anyone who violated the legislation.

“Sahra has submitted a statement to the SAPS and the NPA detailing violations that have taken place as a result of arson. We will be advised by the NPA and SAPS if we are required to provide further information,” he said.

Lebeya said when the investigation was completed, the NPA would determine whether there was a need for any other charge.

Cape Times

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Cape TownParliament

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