Parliament ready to provide office space to all members

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Parliament says it is ready to provide office space to all its members when the new session begins in a few weeks’ time. For the past few years, since the COVID-19 pandemic and the fire that destroyed a large part of the building, members have largely been working remotely or attending hybrid sessions.

The building of 155 new offices, as well as committee rooms, means members will now be able to congregate in Cape Town.

It took Parliament, working with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, 28 days to construct the new offices. The State-of-the-Art facilities have been erected in previously open spaces. The process of allocating the new offices to members, is under way.

“The creation of 155 offices enables those members now to be able to have a basis where they can be able to work sit, down in the privacy of their offices in between attending committee meetings,” says Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Parliament expects the rebuilding of the destroyed chambers and offices to be completed by the end of 2025. Members of Parliament will not have to wait that long, however, to return to, what once was the normal way of working.

“They are ready for occupation, so, it’s just a matter of allocating for those offices,” Mothapo added.

There is also the question of what will happen to the new spaces, once the rebuilding work has been completed.

“They are permanent. Whether those members of Parliament might need to, when the building is done, might be shifted. They will still serve as essential workspaces for Parliament, either to be used by members of the staff or Members of Parliament,” Mothapo explains.

Severe budget cuts over the past few years have seen Parliament struggling to pay for some of its basic tasks. Funding was, however, made available for construction of the modern facilities.

“Parliament will be using the R2 billion that has been allocated from the National Treasury. There is another amount of over R115 million that was provided by the National Treasury to help Parliament to recuperate from the impact of COVID-19 as well as the impact of the fire. So, from that amount we were able to create this space for Members of Parliament,” Mothapo elaborates.

Mothapo says the new offices and committee rooms represent the Parliament of the future, as they use the latest interactive technologies that will reduce the need for departments and other stakeholders to travel to parliament.

In order to avoid disasters like the fire two years ago, the new facilities have modern fire prevention and warning systems, with fire doors that can stop the spread of a fire from one section of the building to another.