ANC caucus rejects Cape Town mayor’s offer for parliament to use city facilities

05 January 2022 - 12:25
The fire this week caused extensive damage to buildings in the parliamentary precinct in Cape Town.
The fire this week caused extensive damage to buildings in the parliamentary precinct in Cape Town.
Image: City of Cape Town

The ANC in parliament has rejected Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis’s offer for parliament to use the city’s facilities for next month’s state of the nation address (Sona) as “highly opportunistic” and a political ploy.

It wants parliament to instead explore other avenues.

The party has also expressed its opposition to calls for parliament to be relocated to Tshwane. The ANC caucus held a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the fire that razed buildings in the parliamentary precinct this week.

On Wednesday the party said there was no need for parliament to move to Tshwane or for the DA-led government to host Sona. It did not elaborate on calls for relocating the legislature, which were reignited after the devastating blaze.

The ANC caucus has agreed that our focus as the ANC is to ensure we wrestle out between those who are recommending the use of the facilities of the City of Cape Town (DA-led) and those who are pushing for the permanent relocation of parliament to Tshwane,” it said.

Caucus noted the highly opportunistic manner camouflaged as an act of generosity on the part of the DA-led Western Cape government to lobby for hosting Sona as a political ploy, and that other avenues must be explored.”

Hill-Lewis announced on Sunday that he was in contact with National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and offered to make the city’s council chamber available for sittings of the National Assembly, as well as the use of the Grand Parade and the City Hall for Sona.

“We want to see parliament continue its important work, and we will do what we can to help,” he said.

Responding to the ANC's decision, Hill-Lewis later said that the destruction of  parliamentary structures was “a national tragedy that should bring us together”.

“We should all be willing to do our part to help parliament overcome this, and continue its vital work. In Cape Town we see this as part of our national duty, to help where we can. The offer of our facilities, without a hiring charge, was done in this spirit. And it is in that spirit that the offer still stands — we are ready and willing to help.

“The response of the ANC caucus in parliament is sad and, I think, misses an important opportunity to bring the country together. That is their choice. Our choice is to do what we can to help,” he said.

The ANC said parliament was under attack and everything should be done to protect it.

“Caucus has noted that since the dawn of democracy, it has become commonplace for the ANC to be attacked by opposition parties in parliament,” it said. “Today, not only is the ANC under siege, but parliament, the symbol and essence of the will of every South African, is under attack.

Caucus expressed its extreme distress over activities that shook the nation at its core on Sunday, leading to a trail of devastation in our parliament. As caucus we vow not to let the country dissipate into a state of chaos and anarchy unravelling the very fabric of our foundational values.”

The ANC caucus said the attack on the National Assembly “is a direct, frontal attack on the people of SA and undermines the will of the people”.

It called on law-enforcement agencies to investigate whether there was a co-ordinated plan that led to the fire.

It noted the fire occurred a few months after the July 2021 mayhem that led to hundreds of deaths, destruction of property and huge economic losses in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

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