The fire at parliament started in the morning and by 9am on the second day of the new year the Old Assembly and National Assembly buildings of South Africa’s parliament were severely damaged. Was it an attack on our democracy or a reflection of the callowness of the national government? Many choose the latter.
On Monday, 3 January the assembly chamber, where sittings are held and the State of the Nation address (Sona) was to be hosted in February, was a blackened pit with wires dangling from a collapsed ceiling.
Around it, the staircases leading to the offices on upper floors were skeletons, and the imposing marble and granite triple-height foyer was scarred and water-logged. While speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s office was intact, others in this wing were severely damaged.