Letter to the Speaker regarding "DSO (Scorpions) Bills - Public Hearing" from the UDM President (15 August 2008)

Dear Madam

The above-mentioned matter refers.

As we witness the public hearing process it has become clear to us that the public hearings need to be extended, because they were conducted in selected areas only and no transport was provided to people outside the city centres where these public hearings were conducted. The vast majority of people in the townships, suburbs and rural areas have not been given an opportunity to speak. Instead we have seen worrying signs that the process was being manipulated and stage-managed - people purporting to speak on behalf of civil society and ordinary citizens made blatant statements like "the decision we took in Polokwane", clearly betraying they were speaking on behalf of the ANC not the public. In other areas we hear that people were intimidated and prevented from speaking freely.

We are convinced that there is a need for a new methodology on how public consultation should take place.

The Constitutional Court has on previous occasions found that Parliament is guilty of failing to conduct adequate public consultation; what research was conducted by Parliament in the wake of this criticism from the highest court, and what steps were taken as a result by the Presiding Officers in order to improve public consultation during the legislative process? Can the Speaker make this research and the resultant policy/rule changes public?

The two chairpersons of the parliamentary committees already prejudiced the entire process during their press conference before the public hearings had even started by clearly indicating the outcome was a fait accompli and the public hearings would have no bearing on the major thrust of the
legislation: namely, to disband the Scorpions. These two individuals need to recuse themselves from the process.

Many of the MPs who will decide on the future of the Scorpions when this legislation comes before the House have been - or still are - the subject of investigation in the Travelgate matter which the Scorpions investigated; this creates a conflict of interest. The Speaker should perhaps use the PWC forensic report to screen them from participation in any deliberation or voting on legislation about the future of the Scorpions.


Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

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