Cape Town - National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that the damage to parts of Parliament left them saddened.
Speaking at the first meeting for the year of the Programme Committee, Mapisa-Nqakula said the meeting was held against the devastating background of the recent fire on the precinct.
“The damage to our chamber and other places, where we gather to do our work, has left us saddened.
“As much as the spaces and symbols mean to our democracy, it is still us as members and elected representatives of our people who are the cornerstone of what constitutes Parliament,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula also said she had had a meeting with chief whips and leaders of parties to discuss various options on how they continued their work.
“These discussions have included issues around the appropriate spaces not only for convening of the forthcoming State of the Nation Address (Sona) but also for future sitting of the National Assembly.
“I have taken much courage from commitment expressed by chief whips and party leaders to rise above the collective loss and fulfil our constitutional mandate and work of our Parliament,” she said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his Sona at the Cape Town City hall on February 10 and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will deliver his Budget speech at Good Hope building in the parliamentary precinct on February 23.
During the meeting, the National Assembly chief whips and presiding officers were briefed about the programmes of portfolio committees and plenary sitting of the House.
These included processing of bills, work to be done by the portfolio committees and oral questions to Cabinet members, among others.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said they were focused in doing their parliamentary work.
“Parliament is not about physical building. I am happy that we are not to be deterred by anything,” Majodina said.
“We are going to do our work. Committees will be sitting,” she added.
Majodina said the National Assembly programme committee meeting really assisted in affirming that parliament was going ahead with the programme adopted for the year.
“Today’s meeting confirms that there is a clear plan on all meeting of Parliament that are supposed to take place,” she said.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the parliamentary buildings were significant, but were not the reason Parliament existed.
“We as people constitute what works. It is crucial (to) remember that,” Tsenoli said.