Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

Parliament breathes a sigh of relief as the Mace didn't burn to smithereens in blaze

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Jan 6, 2022

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Cape Town – The Mace, an important symbol that signifies the authority and sitting of the National Assembly was not destroyed in the two-day fire that gutted some parts of Parliament.

Presiding Officers - Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Amos Masondo received the Mace which is carried into the Chamber by the Serjeant-at-Arms and announces the arrival of the Speaker of the NA.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the Mace had not been damaged.

“The Presiding Officers confirm that efforts to save the Mace were successful yesterday after two days of the fire. It has been retrieved from its safe storage without any damage,” Mothapo said.

Further assurance was also given that the State of the Nation Address and Budget Speech, among others, would go ahead as planned.

Sona is expected to take place on February 10, and the Budget Speech two weeks later.

Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo commended firefighters for their efforts to battle the ravaging flames.

Video: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

In a special ceremony organised by the Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, Mapisa-Nqakula said the real task for action to fight the fire, however, was left to these members of the fire department, the first responders, who jumped into the danger to avert even bigger devastation.

“On Sunday morning our country literally woke up to a dark cloud hovering over the horizon. An incident so devastating for our country’s democracy left us almost paralysed and truly saddened. The institution of Parliament, the symbol of our unity and freedom, was on fire.

“For many South Africans, the response to this incident could only have been one of shock. As the leadership, we could only be contemplating, planning, communicating and observing.

“On behalf of our Parliament leadership, our Head of State, and the nation, we thank you. Not only do we thank you for your bravery, but for your love of your country that led you to even answer to this calling in the first place. We had been standing around you on the ground, confident only in your abilities and our prayers that you succeed to protect us all and salvage our democracy.

“We also want to thank your families for accepting that they share both you and your love for them, with the nation,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

“The blaze is now down and extinguished, but our gratitude to you is eternal. We want to thank the governance structures of the city under the Mayor, and the commanders of the fire brigade for the sterling leadership you have given and for coordinating between us,” she said.

Over two days, 300 firefighters were on the ground working shifts, and over 60 fire engine vehicles were deployed. One fire engine remains at the scene, with five crew members working throughout all the floors, ensuring no flare-ups.

Meanwhile, Mothapo said the Presiding Officers reassured everyone that no stone would be left unturned in getting to the bottom of how the incident happened.

Parliament would share further details about where and how the State of the Nation Address, Budget Speech, and other programmes would proceed.

The ANC Caucus said the attack on the National Assembly was a direct frontal attack on the people of South Africa.

During a special virtual meeting on Tuesday, the caucus discussed, among others, the brazen attack on Parliament and the upcoming 110th Anniversary celebrations in Limpopo.

Caucus has called on law enforcement agencies to unearth if there was a coordinated plan that led to the destruction at Parliament.

For its part, the ANC caucus said it would mobilise all efforts to ensure that it assists in the rebuilding efforts aimed at restoring the structural integrity of the seat of the legislature.

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Political Bureau

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