Cape Town – The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for the relocation of parliament to Gauteng, following a fire that broke out on Sunday and destroyed a large part of the National Assembly building in Cape Town.
The fire broke out in the oldest wing of the parliament complex, resulting in dozens of crews battling throughout the day to extinguish the flames.
Officials said the entire part housing the National Assembly had been destroyed.
“The most damage is in the National Assembly building.
“That won’t be used for months,” said City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse.
Earlier, parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the roof of the National Assembly had collapsed and that the fire was “so intense” in that part of the building that firefighters had been forced to withdraw.
“The entire chamber where the members sit… has burned down,” he said.
The development has somewhat ignited conversation around moving Parliament to Gauteng, with the EFF saying that any funds for repairs to the National Assembly building, should be spent on relocating parliament to Tshwane instead.
In a statement, the EFF argued that politically, the location of the legislature of South Africa in the City of Cape Town, while the administration of the country was located in the City of Tshwane was a deal brokered by British and Afrikaner settlers.
EFF Statement On Ongoing Fire At The Parliament Of South Africa pic.twitter.com/sljYEWB5bw
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) January 2, 2022
“To maintain this colonial pact of how we organise our society is nothing but a betrayal of African people and a reaffirmation that white-racist spatial and political planning still over-determines our lives in this country,” said the EFF.
The party added: “In terms of costs, the continued location of Parliament in Cape Town is a waste of taxpayers’ money. It results in unnecessary expenditure on both travel and accommodation for parliamentarians and members of cabinet.
“The EFF therefore calls for any money which would be set aside for repairs of what seems like irreversible damage, unless there is large-scale construction, to be used to relocate Parliament to Tshwane where the Union Buildings reside.”
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi described the incident as “a beautiful fire”.
“Whatever the cause! Whatever the intentions, it is a beautiful fire. A fire that allows us to start from scratch! A clean slate. Don’t renovate! Turn it into a museum as we accept a gift of so beautiful a fire! A clean slate to start afresh in Tshwane,” Ndlozi wrote in a tweet.
Whatever the cause! Whatever the intentions: IT IS A BEAUTIFUL FIRE
A fire that allows us to start from scratch! A clean slate
Turn it into a museum as we accept a gift of so beautiful a fire! A clean slate to start afresh: IN TSHWANE
— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) January 2, 2022
His remarks were, however, criticised by Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairperson, Helen Zille, who accused him of “celebrating this tragedy” rather than offering solutions that would ensure parliament could continue its work without disruption.
She said this as she responded to Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, who offered alternative venues for the state of the nation address scheduled for February 10 and the budget speech.
“Cape Town will make our council chamber available to the Speaker for sittings of the National Assembly, as well as the use of the Grand Parade and City Hall for the state of the nation address. We want to see parliament continue its important work, and we will do what we can to help,” Hill-Lewis said on Sunday.
Zille praised Hill-Lewis for making sure the business of Parliament continued despite the fire.
“Thank you, Mr Mayor. While the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi celebrated this tragedy and urged parliament be moved to Tshwane instead, you were trying to ensure the business of parliament continues in city facilities. No wonder the president says there is one city that works in SA,” she tweeted.
Thank you, Mr Mayor. While the EFF’s @MbuyiseniNdlozi celebrated this tragedy, and urged Parliament be moved to Tshwane instead, you were trying to ensure the business of Parliament continues in City facilities. No wonder the President says there is One City that works in SA. https://t.co/KEPawU8UFd
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) January 3, 2022
But Ndlozi hit back at Zille, saying: “Tragedy is not an apartheid symbol burning down without a single loss of life. Tragedy is the normalised poverty, landlessness and squalor the black majority is subjected to in Cape Town. Humiliated next to world class white wealth and opulence. But a colonial mistress won’t care.”
Tragedy is not apartheid symbol burning down without a single loss of life
Tragedy is the normalised poverty, landlessness and squalor that the black majority is subjected to in Cape Town. Humiliated next to world class white wealth & opulence
But a colonial mistress won’t care https://t.co/Na8sdBXj9K
— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) January 3, 2022