R7billion to move Parliament to Pretoria

Image by © Fraser Hall/robertharding/Corbis

Stephané Bothma

It will cost an estimated R7 billion to relocate Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria to bring about a saving of up to R750 million a year.

The issue of moving Parliament to the capital had been under discussion since 1994, but was raised again last week by President Jacob Zuma in his state-of-the-nation address (Sona) 2016.

Zuma said the cost of keeping Parliament in Cape Town was too high and he wanted members to consider the matter urgently.

“A big expenditure item that we would like to persuade Parliament to consider is the maintenance of two capitals, Pretoria as the administrative one and Cape Town as the legislative capital,” Zuma said.

His statement was met with an outcry from several quarters, with the main objection being the whopping estimated R7 billion of building a new parliament in Pretoria.

“It would save around R500 million to R750 million per year, but that would be offset by the likely massive cost of building a new parliament,” said economist Peter Montalto.

He said it would take between five and 10 years for net savings to be achieved by such a move.

Cosatu also criticised Zuma’s proposal, saying it might sound good in principle, but such a decision could not simply be based on saving ministerial costs.

“Moving Parliament would mean uprooting 1 400 Parliamentary staff and their families from their homes. The estimated cost of moving Parliament is R7 billion and we do not know where such money would come from,” Cosatu’s statement read.

“While we fully support cost-cutting, it must not come at the expense of workers and their families.”

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille also issued a statement, saying the main problem was not the relocation of Parliament, but the fact that the ANC government was too big.

“National government needs to cut the cabinet, streamline and rationalise Parliament to save costs to the taxpayer and work more efficiently,” she said.

“However, regardless of whether Parliament moves to Pretoria or not, we will always be happy to welcome the people of Gauteng and the rest of the country to Cape Town,” De Lille said.

The DA said moving Parliament to Pretoria would come at a huge cost.

The party’s chief whip John Steenhuisen said government simply did not have the money to consider something like this.

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Stephané Bothma

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