The Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Councillor Geordin Hill-Lewis
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Hon. Amos Masondo/
Members of the Mayoral Committee
Executive staff both Parliament and the City
Members of the Media and invited guests
Ladies and Gentleman

Today marks four weeks since South Africans woke up, on that morning of 2 January 2022, to the devastating news of the fire that engulfed certain parts of the buildings of Parliament, causing extensive damage to several meeting rooms, offices of the Members of Parliament and building contents.

One of the greatest losses South Africans suffered in this disastrous incident was the complete destruction of the National Assembly Chamber, which hosts sittings of one of the Houses of Parliament and joint sittings of Parliament, which include the annual State of the Nation Address.

This was not just a mere building of brick and mortar that was destroyed, it was a distinguished national heritage which represented rich political history that connected our past, our present and our desired future for a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and free South Africa.

It has been an emotional and painful experience, not only for all of us in the parliamentary community, but for the millions of South Africans whose aspirations and hopes continue to rest on the shoulders of Parliament. This is because, as the apex law-making body, a forum for debates on issues of public importance and with an oversight authority on the Executive, Parliament plays a key constitutional role in the socio-economic development path of our democratic society.

Despite this devastation, pain and disappointment, we will rise again from these ashes; we will rebuild; we will recover; and we will win. South Africans are a resilient and tenacious people; we have gone through the most difficult and devastating phases in our history; and we are certain that we will triumph over this one.

It is for this reason that we made a firm commitment to South Africans that their Parliament, and its Constitutional obligations and programs as outlined in its constitutional mandate, will not be derailed and we will not be distracted by the fire, but will continue - with even more resoluteness and zealousness to serve our nation. Parliament, as an institution, remains intact, competent and functional to fulfil its obligations to the people.

The concept of cooperative governance, which is one of the cornerstones of our constitutional democracy, and which enjoins the three spheres of government to function cooperatively and support each other in their service to the people, is one of the constitutional mandates of Parliament.

The fact that we are here today, on this historic occasion of the hand over of the Cape Town City Hall, is testament to the dynamism and vibrancy of our Constitution in so far as its foresight and safeguards are concerned. Equally significant and important, is the matured leadership, unity of purpose and decisiveness displayed by leaders here in making required and necessary interventions to provide solutions in times crisis.

In this regard, we once again extend our deepest gratitude to the Executive Mayor of this City, Councillor Hill-Lewis, for your leadership and solution-oriented intervention in providing this historic hall as the Precincts of Parliament..

Both the Mayor and Premier of the Western Cape, Hon Alan Winde, had offered Parliament the use of various provincial and city properties as alternative venues to the gutted Chamber of the National Assembly.

Amongst all the venues offered, the City Hall was the most suitable facility that met all the Parliamentary requirements regarding infrastructure and capacity. It was also an affordable option, as the Mayor has promised us that no venue hiring fee would have to be paid by Parliament to conduct its business here.

This Hall has rich history that links our past colonial, apartheid era and our present democratic dispensation. The Hall, which was built in the early 1900 and has for years served as one of the colonial symbols of the Cape Colony, has now become our proud heritage and a symbol of our collective hopes, aspirations and freedom.

It is a historic landmark of our journey as a people towards a democratic transition and a free society, and indeed one of the critical milestones of Madiba’s long walk to freedom.

It is the first place where Tata Mandela addressed the nation and the international community after his historic release from prison on 11 February 1990. The current, President of the Republic, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, stood by his side. Four years later, in 1994, after the National Assembly elected him as the first President of our democracy, he returned to the same balcony here, to once again address the his people.

We have thus come a full cycle. 32 years since that historical occasion of 11 February 1990 when he stood by the side of President Mandela, President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation from this very City Hall on 10 February 2022.

Today, as the Mayor officially hands over over this historic site; this site that represents our painful past while concurrently symbolising our hopeful present and future, it will officially become the precinct of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa until the 17th of February.

It will be the first time in the history of our constitutional democracy that the State of the Nation Address takes place outside the regular precincts of Parliament in Cape Town.

All the appropriate rules and laws will therefore apply to this venue as they would at the Parliament Street

From today, this majestic Hall will fall under the control of Parliament as per the definition of the precincts of Parliament provided for in Section 2 of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.

The Act, amongst others, defines the precincts of Parliament as any area of land, every building or part of a building used for Parliament's business and in connection with the proceedings of Parliament under Parliament's control.

In terms of this Act, Section 3 the precinct's control vests with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces. In this regard, by handing over this Hall to Parliament, the Mayor places it under the custodianship of both myself and the Chairperson of the NCOP, as per the laws of the Republic.

The declaration of this Hall as the precinct of Parliament for the joint business of Parliament must also comply with the Joint Rules of both Houses.

We must also state that preparation for the hosting of the State of the Nation Address are at advanced stage, and indications are that South Africans should expect a successful address by the President. We will not divulge much at this moment regarding the ongoing preparatory work, as a special media briefing on the state of readiness will be conducted closer to the date of the SONA.

This is a historic moment, despite the difficult circumstances which necessitated its occurrence. We are once again grateful to the Mayor of the City of Cape for his intervention. Special gratitude also goes to all South Africans who have stood with us throughout the fire crisis, who have expressed support and encouragement during this difficult time.

Investigations by relevant authorities are underway and assessments by experts to quantify the loss and damage are proceeding. We once again appeal - impatient and anxious for answers as we all are - that they be afforded necessary space to conduct their business and report to all of us their outcomes. We therefore ask that we do not be drawn at this stage into any speculations or questions whose answers relies on those processes.

Ad I have said, we are resilient people as South Africans. We will rise again from the ashes of the devastating fire; we will rebuild; we will recover; and we will win!

I thank you