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Sunday, 19 November 2023 22:16

Parliament suspends 9 officials over National Assembly fire.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Parliament has placed nine of its officials on suspension on charges related to the fire that gutted the National Assembly building and caused widespread damage to the adjacent old assembly almost two years ago.

Parliament had initially identified 28 officials implicated in the matter, following investigations into the fire and allegations of maladministration.

However, some of the officials were able to provide explanations and the list was whittled down to 13 officials who will face disciplinary action.

Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George said the 28 identified officials were given an opportunity in October to respond to a notice of possible charges related to Parliament's internal fire investigation.

Only two of them did not respond immediately.

George said some of those served with notices offered satisfactory explanations for their actions, and Parliament is considering whether they should receive professional development to address possible skills gaps.

But 13 other staff members who didn't provide acceptable answers will now be facing disciplinary proceedings - and soon receive notice of the specific charges they face.

Nine of them mostly senior staff, have been placed on suspension with full pay and benefits, to minimise any influence they could have on others.

George said the suspensions are crucial for maintaining the integrity of the institution and ensuring an impartial process.

Parliament announced a week ago that it has made progress by fixing some of the offices that were damaged in the fire.

But it maintained that work on the restoration of the National Assembly Chamber and Old Assembly will continue and they expect to meet the deadline of finishing the project by the end of 2025.