Fire damaged buildings handed back to Parliament for reconstruction

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, has described the reconstruction of Parliament as a unique historical opportunity for reimagining and infusing deep heritage elements with modernity to meet the demands of a "people's Parliament".

George made the remarks during the handing over of the fire-gutted parliamentary buildings by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and its implementing agency, Coega, to the parliamentary team on Monday.

This follows Parliament’s recent announcement that it will partner with implementing agent, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

George said South Africa is a melting pot of various cultures, with its Parliament resembling many facets of the people's rich heritage, some of which were destroyed.

He said every effort will be made to preserve as much of this heritage as possible, while reimagining and building a capable and responsive African Parliament.

"We must ensure that modernity and heritage blend perfectly, and this is a challenge we are placing on the desk of the architectural team.

“The team must ensure the new buildings meet the requirements of modern communications technology, occupational safety and those that support the constitutional work of Parliament, including ensuring adequate capacity for joint sittings of both Houses, additional oversight committee rooms and more capacity for public gallery," George said. 

George said the fire crisis necessitated higher levels of vigilance in mitigating all kinds of risks, including unprecedented weather patterns, to ensure that nothing disrupts Parliament's business continuity in future.

The fire broke out on 2 January 2022, and burnt for at least three days. The man suspected of starting the fire, Zandile Mafe, confessed to the crime after he was arrested inside the building. He has subsequently had a number of court appearances. 

George stressed that every effort will be made to ensure that the reconstruction programme is concluded within the set period of two years.

Internal capacity has also been created to assist Parliament in managing the reconstruction programme through the DBSA. –