The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has confirmed the withdrawal of its proposed bill that called for the relocation of parliament from Cape Town to Tshwane. The party announced this decision on Tuesday, stating that it was a tactical move and that the Relocation of the Seat of Parliament Bill is likely to be reintroduced after the 2024 general elections.
The Reasoning Behind the Bill
The EFF stated that the bill was introduced by party leader Julius Malema in November last year to address historical decisions made by colonial settlers in their attempt to unify colonial and settler provinces. These decisions, according to the EFF, were made with complete and discriminatory exclusion of black people, resulting in a parliament that is inaccessible to most South Africans today. The bill also aimed to save taxpayers money as billions of rands are spent on travel, accommodation, and subsistence allowances for MPs, ministers, and government and state officials between the administrative and legislative cities.
Opposition to the Bill
The bill was widely rejected during a parliamentary debate in June, with several parties citing the high costs of relocation. The ANC’s Hope Papo stated at the time that relocating parliament was not a priority for the country and that the party did not support it. A study by Pamoja Asset Management, commissioned by parliament in 2018 and released last year, estimated it would cost R8.4bn over five years to build a new parliamentary complex in Pretoria and relocate the legislature’s more than 1,000 employees from Cape Town.
Future Plans for the Bill
Despite withdrawing the bill for now, the EFF has stated that it has tactically withdrawn the bill for long-term strategic purposes, which include gaining control of political power. The party said that the bill was informed by its founding manifesto, which proposes that only one city should serve as both the administrative and legislative capital of the country. It remains to be seen whether this proposal will gain more support in future.