The Presidential Years

Regarding the question of the seat of Parliament, we have been discussing this and I hope all members will appreciate that this is a matter that will be handled with great care. It is a very sensitive matter. The only time I saw members of the ANC in the Western Cape agreeing very fully with the members of the NP was on the question of the seat of Parliament. [Laughter.] The Transvalers also speak with one voice on the question, saying that Parliament must be shifted to the Transvaal. Even my name has been involved. When we heard that the Pretoria City Council had said that the President was in favour of Parliament shifting to the Transvaal, I instructed my director-general to write to them to say that I had expressed no opinion on this question. Nevertheless, in spite of that, they continue with this propaganda.

This is a matter which must be discussed calmly, because the existence of two capitals is very costly to the country from the point of view of the resources it demands, from the point of view of Government efficiency and from the point of view of the difficulty it imposes on members of Parliament. We must accept the fact that there should be one capital in this country. As to which one it should be, that must depend on the reports of the relevant committees that have been set up.

It may be Cape Town. I will be happy if that is so, because I have spent 27 years in this area. [Laughter.] It may be Pretoria. I will be happy if that is the position, because that is the province in which I live. It may be Bloemfontein. As the chairperson here will say, Bloemfontein is the safest of all these places, because Gauteng, as he has pointed out, is full of mine holes and can collapse any day. [Laughter.] I will therefore be happy also if we move to establish our capital in a safe place like Bloemfontein.