Parliament engages public ahead of rebuild project

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 10 May 2024
The WhatsApp chatbot for the public to have their say on the reconstruction and modernisation of Parliament.
The WhatsApp chatbot for the public to have their say on the reconstruction and modernisation of Parliament.

With Parliament’s reconstruction and modernisation set to commence later this year, a rebuild project website and WhatsApp chatbot have been introduced to encourage public involvement.

This was revealed by secretary to Parliament Xolile George, during yesterday’s official handover of the fire-damaged buildings to the contractor of the rebuild project.

Parliament’s main buildings were gutted by a fire in 2022, damaging the National Assembly building, parts of the Old Assembly building, and hundreds of offices of MPs and staff.

Parliament secured over R2 billion for reconstruction of the damaged buildings from National Treasury. However, it was reported in March that an additional R943 million will be needed for ICT.

The rebuilding project is expected to be completed by February 2026.

Providing an update on the plans and progress of rebuilding and restoring Parliament, George yesterday remarked on the importance of the project. He commented that government envisages an outcome that reflects a reimagined and democratised Parliamentary complex that meets functional and practical needs, and reflects the democratic character of South Africa.

The WhatsApp chatbot allows members of the public to provide input on principles to be adopted in the reconstruction journey and rank them, he indicated.

“The involvement of the public in the rebuilding of our Parliament is not just important, it is essential. Parliament belongs to the people of South Africa, and as such, it must reflect their will, aspirations and hopes, not only in terms of its constitutional mandate, but also its heritage and practical usefulness.

“To ensure the public has a meaningful say in this process from start to finish, we are inviting all South Africans to actively participate.

“This platform hosts the new architectural designs, detailed project outlines, overviews and conceptual frameworks. We encourage members of the public to visit this website, peruse the provided materials, and submit their comments.

“This feedback will be invaluable, as we strive to create a Parliament that truly embodies the spirit and diversity of our nation, serving not only as a legislative hub but as a monument to our collective future.”

To access the chatbot, citizens must WhatsApp “hi” to 079 0223 346.