In a shocking abuse of power and state resources the Eastern Cape Legislature has selected only ANC MPLs to officially accompany the National council of Provinces ad hoc committee when they hold public hearings in the province on Thursday on the Protection of State Information Bill. For the notice, click here.
This is a huge deviation from the normal procedure where all official delegations that embark on public hearings are of a multi-party nature. This undemocratic move portrays the ruling party’s fears and paranoia that the public at large is vehemently opposed to these bills. Why else would they engage in this underhand ANC parade to try and white-wash the proceedings and rig the outcome.
This action sets a dangerous precedent for the legislature as it totally undermines our conventional democratic practice and the multiparty nature of our constitutional democracy.
These public hearings are of critical importance to the future of our constitutional democracy. The secrecy bill is a danger to freedom of information in South Africa. This bill criminalises the possession and disclosure of classified documents even when they reveal wrong doing such as corruption. There is not public interest defence.
The action by the legislature highlights a manipulative and indecent attempt to engineer a particular outcome for a rotten piece of legislation. The smoke and mirrors politics that the ANC is engaged in by creating the illusion of bona fide public hearings will not fool South Africa. The Eastern Cape legislature’s attempt is now exposed.
I have written to the Speaker and the Secretary of the legislature, expressing my outrage at the subversion of normal democratic practices which this institution has always adhered to. I have requested that this item be placed on the next multi-party rules committee agenda so those responsible can be held accountable.
Supporting document: Letter to the Speaker
Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Subsequent to my letter I was contacted by the Speaker who informed me that I would be contacted by the Chief Whip with regard to the inclusion of opposition members.
This has now occurred and I have been informed that members of the opposition will be part of the official delegation of the provincial legislature which joins that of the NCOP.
I will be joining the delegation tomorrow in the Nelson Mandela Metropole.
The fact remains that if the DA had not raised the issue, the opposition would have been excluded from these very important hearings. This once more highlights the value of having a vigorous opposition to safeguard democratic values.