Does it make sense to relocate Parliament?
Since the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the seat of Parliament has been in Cape Town while the administrative seat has been housed in Pretoria.
In the early 1990s, the ANC first raised the proposal to move Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria. Recently, serious consideration to this idea is once again being given. An independent feasibility study on the socio-economic impact has been commissioned and which was supposed to be completed early this year.
Since the study has not yet been published, actual figures to define economic impact to the various business sectors within each of the two cities are not yet available.
As such, the arguments put forward for Parliament’s move from Cape Town to Pretoria, are rather based on logical facts.
Which raises the obvious question. Does it make sense for the move to take place?
With more than 100 embassies and consulates, Pretoria is the recognised diplomatic hub of the country and the African continent.
Having Parliament based in the same city, will promote effective collaboration between visiting delegations, government and business.
The present set-up is costly and awkward, as ministers, civil servants and diplomats are required to travel between the two cities when Parliament is in session - at a current estimated cost of approximately R750 million a year.
This set-up requires government to maintain two capital cities.
Therefore, supporting the argument that from a strategic operations point of view it is more efficient for the administrative and legislative seats of government to be in one city - Pretoria, the capital city of the country.
It is expected that there will be some capital investment required to develop new legislature facilities, but it is largely anticipated that these costs will be offset against the estimated R750m it currently costs government per year to have these two institutions split between Cape Town and Pretoria.
Duaren Prince, director: trade and investment of the Capital City Business Chamber, points out that Pretoria is a vibrant business destination as demonstrated by major developments such as the Menlyn Maine node, Menlyn and surrounding areas, the investment by Nissan of R3billion into its Rosslyn plant, plus BMW and Ford’s multi-billion investment into their plants.
All of which requires the expansion of infrastructure and facilities around the city.
It is expected that moving Parliament to Pretoria will bring additional economic benefits to the capital city.
Many new job opportunities will be created within all business sectors of the city.
This will promote the property and infrastructure industry in Pretoria. Apart for the need to develop the new facility to house legislature, the MPs and approximately 1300 civil servants and their families will be requiring permanent accommodation.
With people moving into the city, there will be a bigger consistent demand on the retail sector as well as on restaurants, entertainment and hotels, especially as the capital city will become their base.
Everything considered, when we all as South Africans focus on building one recognised capital city, this will lead towards the development of an iconic landmark for our country as well as a more streamlined approach on administration processes and the growing of our country.
* Haitas is the executive director: strategic business development of the Capital City Business Chamber in Pretoria.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.