National Assembly sittings to return to Parliament precinct after Sona

Officials have been adamant that despite the devastation caused by the fire, the work of Parliament will resume.

FILE: Firefighting crews at Parliament on 3 January 2022 as they work to extinguish to last remnants of a fire that started on 2 January 2022. Picture: Saya Pierce-Jones/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has taken a decision that beyond the State of the Nation Address (Sona) next month, the sittings of the National Assembly, including the Budget Speech, must be retained within the precincts of Parliament in the Good Hope Chamber.

A fire earlier this month caused large-scale damage at the Parliamentary precinct, including to the National Assembly building.

A suspect has been arrested on a charge of arson.

Next month, President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the annual State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Cape Town City Hall.

The post-Sona debate and reply by the president will also be held at this venue.

And to determine where future sittings will take place, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula met with presiding officers of the House at a meeting with chief whips of political parties on Monday.

Officials have been adamant that despite the devastation caused by the fire, the work of Parliament will resume.

"To repair or rebuild the National Assembly will take longer, swift decisions on the sitting of the House needed to be taken to ensure that the business of the House is not interrupted," said parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Mothapo said that the Good Hope Chamber at Parliament had been identified as the venue for further sittings.

"It's one of the oldest meeting rooms of Parliament and it has essential technical capabilities as well as meeting the basic requirements for the sittings of the House. It is one of the buildings of Parliament that has not been affected by the fire," Mothapo said.

The chamber has a seating capacity of 170 persons and permits 70 persons under COVID-19 social-distancing arrangements.