DA MPL Bobby Stevenson will be hauled before the provincial legislature ethics committee after refusing to withdraw a dig at the ANC.
Stevenson would not back down on a statement about “speculations” that the ANC planned to “misuse state funds for electioneering” ahead of 2016 local government elections.
He raised the matter at a house sitting last week where he told members that his party would keep an eye on government spending ahead of the 2016 elections. “This province is in a cash-strapped position and cannot afford to spend money on electioneering. There is speculation that each municipality is going to get a huge sound truck in ANC colours to go around and publicise what the ANC has done in municipalities,” said Stevenson.
His comments did not sit well with some ANC MPLs. ANC chief whip Mzoleli Mrara demanded proof, but the DA leader said he had documentation to prove his claims.
ANC MPL Xola Pakati said “the member cannot subject the house to speculations” but Stevenson replied that he was “quite within my rights of free speech”. Pakati added: “The constitutional right of a member should not take away the right of others to correct information presented.”
Mrara later said he had been provided with documentation, but was not impressed. “I am convinced this serious allegation is unfounded and has no basis against ANC, except to taint and tarnish the image of our organisation. I request that this member retract his statement unconditionally and also apologise to ANC.”
Stevenson refused. “What I said was perfectly within the realms of free speech …. There is nothing unparliamentary about those comments. I will not withdraw anything.”
In referring the matter, legislature speaker Noxolo Kiviet said: “Now that these members disagree, we will not debate this. It will go straight to where it belongs, to a proper investigation by the ethics committee.”
Stevenson is the second DA MPL to face the committee recently. Party leader Athol Trollip resorted to Grahamstown High Court to overturn a sanction suspending him for 15 days from legislature activities after being found guilty of implying premier Phumulo Masualle was “a liar and cheat”. — firstname.lastname@example.org