Parly business spills over into city hotels

2014-10-16 12:16
(Dan Calderwood, News24)

(Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Johannesburg - Many MPs have been upgraded to plusher premises - city hotels - for standard parliamentary committee meetings this week.

The City Press reported that this was due to the squeeze on space in the parliamentary precinct.

The third term of the fifth Parliament began this week with dozens of committee meetings that could not all be accommodated at the 28 available venues at Parliament.

Alternative venues were booked for the overflow at the four-star Townhouse Hotel, Cape Town Lodge and Pepperclub Hotel.

And although some MPs may enjoy tucking into the more varied and tastier grub offered at these establishments, the relocation from the parliamentary hub comes with a certain amount of inconvenience because some hotels are a 15-minute walk from Parliament.

“Most of these external venues are simply not suitable,” said parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs.

“This is an untenable arrangement and presiding officers have raised this concern very sharply since the start of the fifth Parliament.”

He explained that the 28 parliamentary venues needed to accommodate 54 committees that had been established in the fifth Parliament, which has an average of 40 committee meetings a week.

And some venues at Parliament were not big enough or suitable for committee meetings.

“Some can hardly accommodate members of the committee and the support staff, let alone members of the media and the public,” he said in a written reply to queries.

The challenge of venues “hinders committees in the exercise of effective oversight and facilitation of effective public participation”, he said.

Jacobs said besides the effect on the institution of Parliament, financial costs were also significant. During the 2013 to 2014 year, costs for external venues amounted to R929 988.

Presiding officers have requested more space for parliamentary business. They are in negotiations with the finance minister for a shelved multibillion-rand expansion programme to be implemented with immediate effect, it was reported in the Sunday Times last month.

National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, who is spearheading the project, complained that it was a waste of money to rent out hotel venues.

Other plans that form part of the “space utilisation project” include a 1 500-seater chamber with a banqueting hall, a 1 600m² office tower, restaurant and apartment complex, and a pavilion building and visitors’ centre.

 

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2014

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