Yesterday’s invasion of the Nelson Mandela Bay council chambers by workers is far from a simple issue of occupying the chamber. It is a direct assault on our democracy. A legislative arm of government was prevented from exercising its free will on important matters because the elected representatives of the people were held hostage. DA councillors were not free to leave the chamber.
The direct blame for this situation of anarchy that is fast developing in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality lies squarely at the hands of the ANC with its infighting and paralysed decision making process. There appeared to be collusion between ANC councillors, workers and security guards.
The shocking conduct of the workers which resulted in several DA-councillors being man-handled cannot be tolerated in any democracy. (For example, councillor Angelo Dashwood was physically carried back into the chamber by three workers at one point). The municipality must lay criminal charges against the workers for their unacceptable conduct.
This is as real test for the ANC’s commitment to democratic decision making in our city and for the SAPS.
The SAPS owes the public an explanation as to whether or not they were given any instruction not to clear the chamber of workers. Otherwise they stand accused of allowing the elected public representatives of our city to be held hostage.
I have smssed and written to the MEC for Local Government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, at the request of the DA council caucus, urging him to ensure that no decisions of yesterday’s meeting are implemented pending a legal opinion as to whether or not it was a valid meeting.
A DA-governed Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality would have never tolerated this situation. When we take over in 2016 we will ensure the rule of law applies and that worker’s legitimate issues are speedily addressed.