Parliament relocation in spotlight during debate

2016-05-12 21:00
(Dan Calderwood, News24)

(Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Cape Town –  The sooner Parliament moves from Cape Town, the better, an ANC MP has said.

Speaking during the debate on Parliament's budget vote, member of Parliament Vincent Smith said he did not understand why there was so much unhappiness at the suggestion.

"The current arrangement of locating the Executive arm more than 1 000km away from the legislative or oversight arm can no longer be justified politically, it can no longer be justified financially or even from the point of whether this arrangement is the most sensible, in advancing our objectives of strengthening oversight, improving accessibility and increasing public participation of all citizens with regard to Parliament," he said. 

He said the costs of accommodation, support staff, and travel for ministers and officials did not represent value for taxpayers' money.

Smith said parliament must be located within easy reach of South Africans. 

"Cape Town, being at the southernmost tip of the country, is just not accessible to the majority of South Africans and renders the promise of community participation and education nothing but an empty promise."

The possibility of the move was also mentioned by Speaker Baleka Mbete in her speech. 

She said they could not continue as if the challenges faced in this regard were not substantive and real.

EFF MP Makoti Khawula called on the ANC to first remove President Jacob Zuma from office, before they started talking about moving Parliament from Cape Town.

Parliament Secretary Gengezi Mgidlana was in the spotlight during the debate, with parties calling for better relations with staff.

In her closing speech, Mbete defended Mgidlana and said it was regrettable that MPs were attacking him, when they had appointed him.

She called for them to go through the proper procedures if they had problems with Mgidlana.

She also defended a recent a R2m "benchmarking exercise" tour of several countries in Europe by parliamentary officials.

She said the tour was sanctioned by executives of Parliament and there was nothing untoward about it.


During the debate, National Assembly house chairperson Cedric Frolick announced that MPs would soon be going high-tech.

He said the My Parliament Application (BUNGANE) was a Member-centric mobile application that was capable of presenting enriched, user-friendly parliamentary information on mobile devices.

Frolick said the mobile app would ensure that members and committees were given access to all relevant documents on time.

The app would be rolled out to members in August.

"This will also result in huge cost savings worth millions on the printing budget of Parliament as we accelerate our advance towards a paperless environment." 

He said as part of enabling the public participation model, the strategy was to move the current technology platform onto a more interactive platform. 

"This will enable more open consultation and feedback to interested parties as well as enable the public right of petitions and grievance procedures," Frolick said.

MPs raised concerns including lack of sufficient committee rooms, not enough time for committee meetings and maintenance of offices.

Mbete said the work pressures of members and hours available in the week were not easily reconciled. 

She said they had to seek ways to carry out their oversight mandate in a much smarter manner.

Chairperson Thoko Didiza raised concerns over the overall health of MPs.

She called for the wellness programmes to be finalised, and raised the need for "proper" leave for MPs.

Read more on:    anc  |  cape town  |  politics  |  parliament 2016

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