Helen Zille: We dropped the ball on equity bill

2013-11-07 18:02

DA leader Helen Zille has admitted that the party “dropped the ball” in supporting the Employment Equity Bill and that she would take responsibility for it.

Her admission follows an outcry from especially the die-hard liberals in the party, including former leader Tony Leon, who said the party’s support of the bill placed it at a crossroads and was a mistake.

In her online letter, SA Today, Zille said the DA’s parliamentary caucus made a series of errors that led to its support of the bill.

She said the bill went against all the DA’s principles on economic empowerment.

“Not only is it based on racial coercion, it will undermine growth, reduce jobs, drive away investment and work against black empowerment,” she said.

“It will be subject to political manipulation, and undermine our chances of building the ‘capable state’ which the National Development Plan identifies as a top priority.”

She said the DA voting for the bill was the result of a series of errors.

Zille added that although the ANC was likely to pass the bill into law anyway, “that is no excuse for the DA’s deficient handling of it at its inception”.

She set the errors out as follows:

» The DA’s representatives on the portfolio committee were inadequately prepared;

» The many and varied submissions on the bill were rushed through the portfolio committee in four meetings;

» The long parliamentary recess intervened before the bill went to the National Assembly and so we were unable to debate the implications of the bill adequately in caucus;

» When the bill did come before caucus on the day it was due to be debated and voted on in the House, the explanatory memorandum produced by our spokespeople was defective; and

» To make matters worse, we had five minutes [literally] to consider seven different bills.

She said the problem was “a number of sequential errors”.

She said: “I, as the captain of this plane, must take responsibility. And I do. I believe it is best to acknowledge mistakes and seek to rectify them.”

Zille added that DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has acknowledged the deficiencies in the caucus management system that allowed for the errors to slip through.

The party will “correct” their mistake by proposing amendments to the bill when it comes before the national council of provinces, and if those amendments aren’t accepted, the party would vote against the bill when it returns to the National Assembly.

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