Parliament weighing options on venues, but warns of costs

Parliament hopes to have a venue for its sittings by the beginning of April. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Parliament hopes to have a venue for its sittings by the beginning of April. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 1, 2024


Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says they are weighing options in securing a venue for members of Parliament to attend sittings physically.

They want to get the venue by April 1 and at the moment they are looking at various options.

But Mapisa-Nqakula warned that the costs are going to be high. She added that just for one day, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) costs amount to about R500,000.

The Speaker told parties that if they want to have physical sittings, they must ensure their members attend those sittings to avoid fruitless expenditure.

At the moment Parliament was looking at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the City Hall and the Good Hope Centre.

Parliament has not been able to convene in the parliamentary precinct since the fire that swept through it on January 2, 2022.

They wanted a venue that was within the Cape Town CBD, which will enable members to access it easily for sittings.

The programming committee was meeting on Thursday when Mapisa-Nqakula responded to questions on the matter.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi raised the issue of attending plenary sittings physically.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said they needed to get a venue that will accommodate all 400 members of the National Assembly. They will need to hire the venue for sittings for the year and not on an ad hoc basis.

Al-Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks urged Mapisa-Nqakula and her team to look at the lowest costs for ICT services to avoid paying R500,000 a day.

“IT expenses seem to be a problem, can’t we compromise on the IT support that the plenary session will have and considerably reduce the cost. Maybe someone has looked at that and establish what is the bare minimum IT support that we need and considerably reduce the cost to R100,000,” said Hendricks.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she agreed with Majodina that they were looking at getting a venue they will have to book for their sittings for the year and not on an ad hoc basis.

But she said parties will have to commit that all their members will attend the sittings to avoid fruitless expenditure.

“That is exactly what we are talking about, chief whip (Majodina). We are talking about the physical presence of members of the National Assembly. That is the issue at hand, which has been raised by honourable Mkhaliphi. Everything we are trying to do right now is to find a venue which will accommodate members of the National Assembly for physical meetings of the assembly.

“However, we must all be clear that there will be costs added to what we are spending. If you look at, as I said now, just one day just the ICT costs (are between) R500,000-R600,000 per day. People need to understand that. When we finally secure a venue and agree that’s the venue for us to use, as you have said chief whip, all parties will have to commit to their members attending so that we don’t have expenditure which is fruitless by members not attending those sessions.

“There is insistence that people want to (attend sittings physically), therefore, the chief whips of political parties will have a responsibility of ensuring their members do attend those physical meetings,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

She said they hope by April 1 they would have secured the venue for Parliament, but they were exploring all options.

They will send a comprehensive report to parties once they have finalised the process.

They were doing their best to get the venue that will accommodate the 400 members of the Chamber and trying to look at the issue of costs.