Parliament staff not expected to return, only those 'responsible for management of fire incident'

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  • Parliamentary staff are not expected to work at the precinct after the fire.
  • This, after Nehawu instructed its members not to work there.
  • Parliament reiterates that the fire department's report into the blaze is just a preliminary report.

Parliamentary staff are not expected to work at the precinct after a fire gutted it last Sunday, Parliament confirmed.

Earlier, the National Education, Health & Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) branch at Parliament told its members on the parliamentary staff not to return to work at the precinct until it was declared safe to do so.

In a statement released on Sunday, Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said it had noted Nehawu's instruction to its members.

"Parliament wishes to state that, on 2 January 2022, the accounting officer of Parliament issued a communication to members of staff, informing them of restriction of access to the precincts of Parliament due to the fire incident, which has resulted in the cordoning off of affected buildings for reasons relating to safety, the investigation by law enforcement agencies and assessment by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure's multidisciplinary team of engineers," the statement said.

"Due to these restrictions, the physical presence of most staff members, with the exception of the management directly responsible for the management of the fire incident, is not expected until further notice."

READ | Parliament fire: 'How does a poor man have access to explosives?' - accused's lawyer

On Friday, the City of Cape Town fire department released its post-incident report into the blaze, which said that the National Assembly sprinkler valve was not serviced since 2017 and was closed at the time of the fire and that the fire doors were latched open, which assisted in the spread of the fire.

Parliament reiterated that the report only contained preliminary observations of the firefighters during the course of their work.

"It neither purport to provide conclusive findings and evidence regarding the cause and the circumstances surrounding the fire incident nor provides an assessment of the safety of the other parliamentary buildings not affected by the fire."

Last week, Nehawu said Parliament's protection services personnel were told they should stop working on holidays and over weekends, due to lack of finances.

Parliament denied this.

On Tuesday, Nehawu indicated that it would present the media with "all the documentary evidence in its possession as evidence to buttress the assertions it has made to the media".

READ | Parliament fire could have been prevented - DA, Nehawu

Later on the same day, it issued another alert, stating that, on the advice of Nehawu's national leadership, this engagement would be postponed and all further enquiries handled by its national leadership.

By Tuesday afternoon, Nehawu's national leadership and Parliament issued a joint statement, saying there would be further engagements, and that they would "cease with public strife".

Parliament's statement on Sunday concluded: "The presiding officers of Parliament remain committed to the spirit of the discussion last week between the Speaker of the National Assembly and the leadership of the union, which includes a series of further engagements to try to resolve the union's grievances and work together in the aftermath of the fire incident. Public exchanges during this time of crisis remain unhelpful and may serve to negatively affect the ongoing process of implementing the institutional business continuity and recovery plan."

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