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Socio-economic impact of relocating parliament under investigation

2017-02-17 18:04
Parliament has appointed a company to look into the socio-economic impact of relocating the legislature from Cape Town.

Parliament’s secretary, Gengezi Mgidlana, revealed this development today when responding to queries from MPs during a presentation to a joint standing committee on the Financial Management of Parliament.

The company, which Mgidlana did not name, would take between three to six months to complete its analysis.

“Nobody has done a study of the socio-economic benefits of parliament’s location in Cape Town against the benefit of parliament being moved elsewhere.

“No scientific study has been done to look at the full impact. Once done, parliament will be ready to engage on a more educated basis,” said Mgidlana.

This socio-economic analysis is in addition to a revised costing analysis that parliament had done after president Jacob Zuma, in his state of the nation address last year, instructed it to kickstart the investigation of relocating parliament to Pretoria in order to cut down on “wasteful expenditure”.

The double up on costs by having the administrative capital in Pretoria and the legislative capital in Cape Town was too high to maintain, he said at the time.

Zuma did not raise the relocation issue in his State of the Nation Address this year.

Mgidlana said that the costing analysis – which updated figures from an earlier report - and the socio-economic study together would cost around R6.5 million.

When the socio-economic report was completed, parliament would be able to engage with the Department of Public Works and Treasury using credible data at their disposal to ensure proper decision-making, he said.

Responding afterwards, DA MP Mike Waters said it appeared that there was no longer any urgency to get the ball rolling. “I think the plan will die now that the DA controls Tshwane after the local elections last May,” he said.

IFP MP Narend Singh said that when the president announced the possibility of relocating in his previous State of the nation address, it was a “knee jerk reaction”.

“The possibility of moving will keep emerging, so we need to work out if it is viable to move. We are keeping an open mind. It all depends on the studies. They need to be done. It is important to do the exercise, and take it from there.”

In October last year, Zuma told the National Council of Provinces that the Department of Public Works had been asked to investigate the merits of relocation.

An interdepartmental task team, comprising government departments that contribute to the optimal functioning of Parliament, was also constituted, according to a report in City Press.

These included National Treasury which was looking at financial and budgetary implications and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development which was focusing on the legislative requirements and processes.

Zuma said the Department of Public Service and Administration was looking into the administrative and human capital implications, while the Transport department looks at the logistics and transport implications.

Other departments involved were the police and the Department of Labour.

Cosatu economists estimated after Zuma’s address last year that relocation would cost R7 billion, but would bring a saving of around R500m to R750m a year. 
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September 24 2017