The DA applauds the speed and efficiency with which the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town reacted to the devastating fire that ravaged large parts of Parliament today.
We thank President Ramaphosa for acknowledging that the City of Cape Town has an incredible fire response team, and agree completely with his assessment. Had it not been for these firefighting heroes, who responded within six minutes of getting the call, we could have seen nothing but a pile of ash where the buildings of hope and freedom once stood.
It cannot be denied that the upkeep of Parliament, security and general maintenance has been headed on a downward trajectory for the last ten years. The buildings have become neglected, dirty, dangerous and certainly not befitting of the home of South Africa’s democracy. Today’s disastrous fire has been a catastrophe just waiting to happen.
It has come to our attention through the Chief Whips’ Forum that SAPS is awaiting permission from the Fire and Emergency Services to take control to conduct an investigation. It is our belief that an independent investigation should also be launched immediately, led by fire, arson and forensic experts to ensure nothing is missed or overlooked.
We urgently request that this investigation assesses how this fire started and spread with the speed and ferocity that it did to all the houses.
We demand an urgent meeting of the Chief Whips’ Forum to get a full report of matters as they stand.
We also demand that the Minister of Public Works, Patricia de Lille, makes public the documents in her posession regarding the previous fire.
It has been reported that a 51-year-old male is being held for questioning. The truth must out, and the President, Minister Bheki Cele and Minister Patricia de Lille must be completely open and transparent in sharing all information with the South African public. It is after all the People’s Parliament and they have the right to know the truth.
In the emergency meeting of the Chief Whips, it is vital that a decision is made as to where parliament will sit while repairs take place, how SONA 2022 will be conducted and from where staff will work. It is essential that the People’s Parliament must continue to sit and hold the government and the executive to account.