Letter to the Speaker of Parliament (Ms B Mbete) re time allocation for participation in the State of the Nation debate by Bantu Holomisa, MP - UDM President (5 February 2007)

Dear Mrs Mbete

The abovementioned matter refers. I was informed today that the UDM had been given one minute to participate in the debate on the State of the Nation address scheduled for 13 and 14 February 2007.

I want to state unambiguously that this is simply not acceptable; how am I to express the concerns and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of UDM voters regarding the State of the Nation in a single minute? It is preposterous to suggest that the UDM would able to make any meaningful contribution to the debate with one minute of speaking time. The time allocation as it currently stands is stifling multi-party democracy and preventing the legitimate representatives of a significant number of voters from being heard. I cannot fathom the thinking behind the time allocations; if there is supposedly a proportional arrangement why is the UDM given as little time as one-person parties?

If this time allocation is not increased to a reasonable period (as was allocated to us in previous years), I assure you that the UDM will not attend the debate simply to listen to hours of propaganda and one-sided rubbish from one party.  If our concerns are not addressed, the one minute that has been allocated to the UDM can be donated to another party, because we will not give false legitimacy to a one-sided backslapping exercise masquerading as genuine democratic debate. Outside the chambers of Parliament large sections of our constituencies are wallowing in abject poverty, whilst none have escaped the terror and violence of rampant criminals. Yet it seems as if a culture of silence is more important to some than addressing our shared challenges.

Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

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