DA condemns shutdown of Eastern Cape Legislature

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
DA Chief Whip in the Eastern Cape Legislature

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns in the strongest terms the shutdown of the Eastern Cape Legislature on the day that the budget speech was meant to be delivered under the guise of security concerns relating to the ongoing strike action.

This is an assault on democracy. Never before in the history of the Legislature have members been barred from the House. The Legislature cannot be held to ransom by perceived threats that make a mockery of our constitutional democracy.

Having caved in once, where will this end? A culture of lawlessness cannot determine when or where parliamentary sittings take place.

Last week, members of the Legislature were informed that the sitting today would be a hybrid model sitting, allowing some members to attend the proceedings in the House, while others log in virtually.

This was again confirmed during a whippery meeting on Sunday evening. It is, therefore, beyond comprehension that DA members were met with closed gates and barred access to the Legislature precinct by SAPS members on duty.

These actions, allegedly taken by the presiding officers, are in direct contravention of the decisions taken by the collective political leadership.

The Legislature is not just the seat of government in the province. It is also the symbol of democracy in action. By barring members’ access, they have effectively undermined the democratic processes of our government.

This matter will not be left here. The presiding officers need to come clean with the Legislature and provide evidence for this drastic action, and inform us what disciplinary action will be taken against those who caused the shutdown of the Legislature.