Parliament wants to hire venue for sittings while burnt chamber is restored

The fire that gutted Parliament's National Assembly Chamber. Picture: Independent Newspapers

The fire that gutted Parliament's National Assembly Chamber. Picture: Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 3, 2023


National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has given a directive to parliamentary staff to find a venue to be used temporarily for the physical sitting of Parliament until the chamber gutted by fire is restored.

This comes after a push by the EFF for physical sittings of the House rather than the hybrid sessions and sometimes hiring of the Cape Town City Hall, which had to be booked well in advance.

EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said it was unfair to MPs to go on recess and come back without knowing what would happen to the venue.

“I have given a directive to the secretary to Parliament and (National Assembly Secretary Masibulele) Xaso that I am giving them up to the end of the financial year, March 2024.

“From April 1 we should operate in a physical form. We need to find a venue, it does not matter where we find it,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

However, Mapisa-Nqakula said when a venue was sought, there would be a cost implication in terms of the venue’s use on a day or session.

She assured Mkhaliphi that they would receive a report on the temporary venue to be used for sittings.

“I said to them because of the difficulty we seem to have that they must push and make sure come the end of 2023-24, we have a venue where we will be meeting throughout.

“The venue we will secure will be a venue we will be using right up to the time when our Parliament is readily available and handed over to us,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula said they could not organise a venue whenever there was a sitting.

“We need to have an arrangement that will cater for our needs right up to the end of the restoration process,” she said.

Parliament has been holding the joint sittings for the State of the Nation Address (Sona) and budget day at the City Hall since the fire gutted the chambers in January 2022.

The Cape of Good Hope building was also used for some sittings, with some MPs attending virtually.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she wanted to be told that post-2024 Sona and budget, they have a venue.

“I want to be told post-Budget this is the venue we are going to be utilising for our sittings,” she said.

Cape Times