'Rise from these Ashes': Cape Town City Hall Given to Parliament Ahead of SONA

Cape Town City Hall was officially handed over to the South African Parliament on Monday in preparations for the State of the Nation Address in a few weeks. 

The Parliament building and National Assembly Hall, where the State of the Nation Address (SONA) is usually given, is currently in repairs following an arson attack in January.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said losing the National Assembly was one of the greatest losses of the fire.

“That place connected our past, present and desired future for a prosperous South Africa,” she said. “We will rise from these ashes.”

On Monday, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis handed the official key of City Hall to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to symbolize the transfer of authority. City Hall will now be declared the Parliament of South Africa precinct until February 17.

Mayor Hill-Lewis said he believed giving the City Hall to Parliament would promote unity in the wake of national tragedy. He said he was excited and honored to give the handover to the Parliament.

“I hope in this tragedy, this State of the Nation at City Hall will be an opportunity for our country to come back full circle,” Hill-Lewis said.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Mapisa-Nqakula, echoed that sentiment. She said holding the SONA at City Hall is an opportunity to bring the country together.

"The fact that we are here today, on this historic occasion of the hand over of the Cape Town City Hall, is testament to the dynamism and vibrancy of our Constitution in so far as its foresight and safeguards are concerned," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Hill-Lewis said it was a striking coincidence that the SONA, which will take place on February 10, is taking place very close to the 32nd anniversary of Mandela's famous speech on the Cape Town City Hall steps in 1990.

“The hopefulness and tolerance and commitment to peace that Mandela spoke of are hopefully renewed and restored on the 10th of February 2022,” Hill-Lewis said.

The Speaker said the rich history of the location makes it the perfect venue for the SONA as South Africa works toward living up to the words of Mandela and Tutu in becoming a Rainbow Nation. 

"This Hall has rich history that links our past colonial, apartheid era and our present democratic dispensation," Mapisa-Nqakula said. "The Hall, which was built in the early 1900 and has for years served as one of the colonial symbols of the Cape Colony."

Officials said the government's security strategy to prevent further terrorism incidents will be released closer to the SONA event.

By Ben Rappaport 


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