Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is taking seriously President Zuma’s proposal that South Africa have a single capital, arguing in her State of the Province Address on Friday that Cape Town, and not Pretoria, fitted the bill perfectly.
In his State of the Nation Address last week, Zuma said Parliament would consider whether the split between an administrative capital in Pretoria and a legislative capital in Cape Town made economic sense.
Zille said she was “amused” that people assumed this would mean moving Parliament from Cape Town. “If the President’s motive is genuinely to save money, it should be the other way around,” she said to cries of “hear hear” from the DA benches.
“The administrative capital should move to Cape Town.”
To bolster the Mother City’s bid as the sole capital, Zille pitched the idea of building a new government precinct close to Parliament.
The precinct could contain administrative buildings and “high-density parliamentary residential accommodation” on a three-hectare site that was available for development.
The Premier has tasked three of her cabinet colleagues to come up with “concrete proposals” for the development.
Zille said the precinct would be able to accommodate ministers in “pleasant apartments on the upper floors of these high-rise buildings”, with the benefit of 360-degree views.
She would be the “first to move there”, meaning she would leave her official residence on the historic Leeuwenhof estate in Gardens.
Zille said her precinct proposal would save money by selling “costly” ministerial houses.
The single precinct would mean MPs could walk to work, so also saving on security costs.
Zille said it was now up to the Gauteng government to submit “comparable proposals” for why the sole capital should be Pretoria.
Zille’s address yesterday was her longest to date, lasting over two hours.
The premier focused much of her talk on the province’s economy, saying the Western Cape had seen an upward trend in business confidence, despite declining levels nationally. She also defended her record in office since 2009, saying 200 000 jobs had been added.
These remarks were met by jeers from the ANC benches.
Zille said food prices would increase due to the countrywide drought, but did not provide figures. Early estimates showed that agricultural output in the province would decline by 10 percent, she said, as a result she was seeking R88 million in drought relief from the national government.
On the extensive fires that have raged across the province in recent months, Zille said these had destroyed 58 000ha.
Zille also praised the “sensible visa regulations” that national government had put in place following extensive lobbying by the tourist industry.
On the issue of housing in Cape Town, on which the ANC had urged her to focus before the debate, Zille acknowledged that an escalation of inner-city property prices meant buying houses had become “beyond the reach of most people”.
She also provided an update on plans to construct more than 3 000 residential units, as well as shops, schools and parks on a 22-ha site in Pinelands, where the Conradie Hospital used to be.
Zille said the provincial Human Settlements Department would deliver a total 104 000 “housing opportunities” by the end of her term in 2019.
While South Africa had not experienced load shedding in months, Zille warned this was “just a respite”.
She said it was vital that the province sign power purchase agreements with independent power producers.
Zille said 692 schools, 92 libraries and 169 corporate sites had been connected to high-speed internet under the province’s R2.89-billion, 10-year contract with the State Information and Technology Agency and Neotel. By the end of the year, she said, all schools should be connected.