2 January 2022

The South African Parliamentary building this morning caught fire. The cause of the fire is still unknown for now. It’s reported that fire fighters battled to put out the fire.

President Ramaphosa visited South Africa’s Parliamentary Building and said he was deeply saddened by the scenes that all of us were witnessing today as flames engulf the home of our democracy in the precinct of Parliament.

This is a disastrous event that should sadden all of us.

This is devastating, coming as it does a day after our send-off for Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Waking up to the destruction of Parliament is a terrible setback from what we were basking in yesterday.

The Archbishop would have been devastated as well, as this is a place he prayed for, supported and wanted to see as a repository of our democracy.

Notwithstanding the damage that has been done to this precinct, the work of Parliament will carry on.

My thoughts are with the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, the Acting Secretary to Parliament, the management and staff of Parliament; as well as Members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, and their support staff.

I am being briefed by the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, the Minister of Police and the Deputy Minister in the Presidency with responsibility for State Security.

We appreciate the speedy response of the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town in mobilising the response to this emergency.

The real praise and applause belongs to the fire officials and crews of the City of Cape Town who have done a great job.

While they have worked to stop Parliament from being razed to ashes, it is very clear that this fire has devastated the parliamentary precinct and its contents and assets, including Parliament’s historical treasures of heritage.

Parliament and the security agencies of government are looking into the cause of this incident and we must allow these investigation to continue.

While these investigations continue, I believe we are united as a nation in our sadness at this destruction of the home of our democracy.

I have recently requested the Speaker to convene a Joint Sitting of Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, 10 February 2022.

In the wake of this devastating occurrence we will continue to consult on what we can do to ensure continuity in the functioning of Parliament as the critical institution in our democratic infrastructure.

The Diplomatic Informer
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