New legislature splits camps

Khangale Makhado

The two opposition parties in Limpopo are divided over the proposed relocation of the provincial legislature from Lebowakgomo to Polokwane.

Plans by the government for the construction of a new structure are at an advanced stage.

The proposed relocation was announced by public works MEC Machwene Semenya during her budget vote speech in Lebowakgomo last week.

Semenya said consultants have completed the legislature's design and it was now up to the provincial treasury committee to consider a viable funding option.

While the DA has given the thumbs-up to the multimillion-rand project, the United Independent Front (UIF) sees the project as "a terrible waste of taxpayers' money".

UIF leader Ike Kekana said there are already three legislature buildings in the province: in the former homelands of Venda, Gazankulu and Lebowa.

"These structures have turned into white elephants. This is a waste of money because even if the buildings were allocated to other institutions, will they be able to utilise all the space?" asked Kekana.

DA leader Michael Holford, on the other hand, welcomed the move.

"The legislature is presently in chaos where we have to travel over 60km to Lebowakgomo. It becomes very difficult for people to come and see us because of the long distance they have to travel," said Holford, adding that the other structures could be used by district councils.

Other options, Holford said, could be to sell those buildings.

"If the government acts creatively the buildings could be fully and properly used."

Department spokesman Tendani Tshidavhu said the Thohoyandou and Giyani buildings were used by the respective municipalities in those districts.

He said the Lebowakgomo building could be used by the Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality.

Though no final date has been set for the commencement of the project, Tshidavhu said the sod-turning ceremony will take place before the end of the year.

"The cost implications for the new legislature will be determined by the market," Tshidavhu said.