The Presiding Officers of Parliament have assured that all efforts will be made to limit any disruption to the business of Parliament following the fire that gutted parts of the precinct on Sunday.
In a statement, the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Amos Masondo, said the fire that destroyed parts of Parliament came at a critical time when preparations for hosting the 2022 State of the Nation Address and Budget speech were at an advanced stage.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had requested the Speaker to convene a Joint Sitting of Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on 10 February 2022.
The firefighters fought the blaze throughout the day, bringing under complete control fire in the NCOP offices, and continued to battle the flames in the NA Chamber and some offices that were severely gutted by fire.
Significant damage has been caused to the New Assembly Wing, which includes the NA Chamber.
The Presiding Officers however confirmed these flagship programmes of Parliament will not be affected by this unfortunate incident.
While urging the law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in establishing the cause of the incident, they welcomed the swift arrest of a man in his 50s in connection with the incident.
Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo further appealed for calm, cautioned against any speculation and encouraged everyone to afford the law enforcement authorities space to investigate and provide the much-needed conclusive information.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited the site of the fire yesterday, said he was deeply saddened by the scenes he had witnessed.
“This is a disastrous event that should sadden all of us… Notwithstanding the damage that has been done to this precinct, the work of Parliament will carry on.”
He said the speedy response of the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town in mobilising the response to this emergency was appreciated.
“The real praise and applause belongs to the fire officials and crews of the City of Cape Town who have done a great job.
“While they have worked to stop Parliament from being razed to ashes, it is very clear that this fire has devastated the parliamentary precinct and its contents and assets, including Parliament’s historical treasures of heritage,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said Parliament and the security agencies of government are looking into the cause of the incident and these investigations must be allowed to continue.
“While these investigations continue, I believe we are united as a nation in our sadness at this destruction of the home of our democracy. In the wake of this devastating occurrence we will continue to consult on what we can do to ensure continuity in the functioning of Parliament as the critical institution in our democratic infrastructure.”
Source: South African Government News Agency