Govt 'has made no decision to move Parliament'

No decision has been made to move Parliament to Gauteng and the institution remains in Cape Town, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday.

“Parliament is and remains in Cape Town. So there’s no decision to move Parliament to Pretoria,” he told a media briefing following Wednesday’s regular Cabinet meeting.

There had been a brief discussion in Cabinet about cost-cutting measures that had to be implemented, and that the task team set up to look into the matter should expedite its work and report back as soon as possible, he said.

“In the context of that discussion, one of the issues that came up was, for instance, the cost to the state, or to the public, of running a government in Pretoria and a Parliament in Cape Town.

“The fact that literally hundreds of staff have to move between the two cities, and that ministers also have to have houses in Cape Town, houses in Pretoria, and that the state needed to provide transport, cars, in both Pretoria and Cape Town [comes] at [a] great cost to the state.”

Maseko said this was different from what used to happen before 1994, where the previous government operated for six months in Cape Town and six months in Pretoria, relocating only once.

That might have been a much better and more cost-effective way of operating, he said.

Currently, ministers and staff commuted between the two cities on a weekly basis, at great cost to the state.

“So, in the context of discussing costs, the issue of moving Parliament was considered, but no decision has been taken.”

Government acknowledged that this was “not an easy matter” and before any decision could be taken about moving Parliament a lot of preparatory work needed to be done.

“But, what government is looking at at this particular stage, is basically, to look at how much it costs the state to run a government from Pretoria and a Parliament in Cape Town.
It’s just an exploratory discussion at this stage ... to understand the cost implications.”

The task team’s mandate was to look at immediate steps that could be taken to reduce costs.

“So the issue of Parliament just emerged in the discussion very briefly and the view of the meeting was ‘let’s just understand how much it’s costing us’ ... I want to emphasise there is no decision to relocate Parliament to Gauteng,” Maseko said.

The task team would report to Cabinet as soon as it had concrete recommendations on cost-cutting measures.—Sapa

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