Parliament fire: ANC backtracks on use of City of Cape Town facilities for SONA – News24

Monday, 06 June
06 Jan

The ANC has backtracked on an earlier statement rejecting the DA-run City of Cape Town’s offer to host the State of the Nation Address (SONA) at one of its facilities.
After a fire razed the National Assembly Chamber, which usually hosts the SONA, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis offered the Cape Town Council Chamber for sittings of the National Assembly and the use of the Grand Parade and City Hall for the SONA. The fire broke out on Sunday morning.

The ANC caucus held a virtual meeting to discuss the fire on Tuesday.

READ | Parliament fire: ANC caucus rejects DA-run City of Cape Town’s offer to use its facilities for SONA

“Caucus noted the highly opportunistic manner camouflaged as an act of generosity on the part of the DA-led Western Cape government to lobby for hosting SONA as a political ploy and that other avenues must be explored,” read a statement sent out earlier on Wednesday.

Later on Wednesday, another statement was issued. This paragraph was replaced with the following: “All available public facilities should be utilised as and when available to carry out national duties. Such public facilities regardless of the sphere of their location remain state resources in the hands of the people and should be used to serve the interests of the people.”

The caucus also gave its stance on moving Parliament to Pretoria.

The initial statement read:

The second statement read: “In terms of chapter 4 of the Constitution dealing with Parliament, section 42 (sub-section 6) states that the seat of Parliament [is] Cape Town, but an act of Parliament enacted in accordance with section 76 (1) and 5 may determine that the seat of Parliament is elsewhere. Thus, the old debate about Parliament moving to Tshwane is a matter that has not yet been resolved in terms of the Constitution, and it would be premature and wrong to jump on the bandwagon for purposes of cheap publicity. At the moment, the issue is not a priority for the ANC parliamentary caucus.”

The second statement also didn’t contain the ANC caucus’ complaint that opposition parties had used Parliament to attack the ANC.

READ | Parliament fire: Accused allegedly found with stolen laptops and documents, court hears

Meanwhile, Parliament announced with a “great sense of relief” that there had not been any further fire incidents since the flare-up in the National Assembly’s roof on Monday afternoon.
“The last 24 hours have been critical, with firefighters closely monitoring and combing through the scene,” read the statement from Parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo.

“The Presiding Officers of Parliament, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Mr Amos Masondo, applaud the lionhearted firefighters. The firefighters fought to bring the fire at the parliamentary precinct under control.

Mothapo added:

The mace is carried into the chamber by the Serjeant-at-arms when announcing the arrival of the Speaker of the National Assembly at the start of every sitting.

“It signifies that the House is formally in session and that its proceedings are official. The mace was designed to reflect the history, traditions and diverse cultures and languages of South Africa. The design also celebrates its natural beauty, plant and animal life, and rich mineral resources.

“The NA Speaker remains grateful for [the] saving [of] the mace as its recreation could be difficult.”

Parliament’s museum, including artworks, heritage objects and the Keiskamma Tapestry on the ground floor of the Old Assembly building, were not damaged.

The presiding officers confirmed that the SONA, budget speech and other programmes will proceed as planned.

“Parliament will share further details about where and how these events will occur.”

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