By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
Cape Town - Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has denied suggestions by political parties that it has taken too long for the rebuilding and restoration of Parliament, more than a year after the devastating fire.
Mapisa-Nqakula said there were several factors that have led to the delay in the rebuilding process to start this year.
Opposition parties said they were shocked that even the rubble has not been removed from parliament.
The DA, EFF, IFP and NFP said more could have been done to ensure the work had already started, but it was surprising nothing has moved up to today.
This was after Parliament officials and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) provided details of the reconstruction project during the meeting of the joint standing committee on the financial management of parliament.
The National Treasury has allocated R2 billion for the rebuilding of parliament.
In its presentation to the committee DBSA said the rebuilding and restoration will be completed in September 2025.
However, the reconstruction work will start in December this year.
But political parties said this was taking too long and the fact that restoration work had not even started a year after the fire.
But Mapisa-Nqakula said there has not been a delay in the start of the work to rebuild parliament.
“Parliament for a period of six months after it had been burnt down was declared a crime scene. In other words, it means there was no way in which even Public Works could have access to the site. For six months there couldn’t be work done in Parliament between January and June, that was a crime scene, therefore, it was inaccessible.
“The allocation of all this work was done through the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement and that allocation, having been done in November, meant that a green light to begin talking restoration together with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
She added that the department had also done the assessment of the extent of the damage through Coega Development.
She also said the removal of the rubble will form part of the rebuilding phase.
However, she reiterated that members of parliament must bear in mind that the precinct could not be accessed because it was a crime scene, with the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies doing their investigation.
“No work could have been done before a budget was allocated because negotiations were on between ourselves and National Treasury and Public Works,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.