Mamelodi complaints taken to heart - NCOP
Pretoria - Service delivery complaints from Mamelodi residents will be attended to, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) said on Tuesday.
"This whole exercise has been an eye-opener," said chairperson Raseriti Tau.
He was speaking after a public hearing by a Parliamentary ad-hoc committee on the protection of state information bill was bombarded with service delivery complaints in the township east of Pretoria.
Tau said he would like future engagements with other communities to focus on the set agenda, but promised that Parliament would follow up on the numerous complaints made. "We have begun to question whether our institutions [in Parliament] aimed at constantly engaging communities are functioning well."
Tau said that at all hearings, the contributions made by the public had not been one-sided, indicating mixed reactions particularly around the inclusion of a public interest clause.
"We are taking note of the calls for the [public interest] clause but there is always a counter argument saying what is the relevance of that clause," said Tau.
"We are a participatory democracy and this is how the country functions. Imagine if that bill was only dealt with and passed in the Parliamentary precinct? We do not lead people sheepishly."
Hundreds of people packed a large church hall and queued to voice their concerns at the hearing.
The committee of the National Council of Provinces will now head for Kwazulu-Natal for hearings in that province.
Many residents who attended the Pretoria event ignored the agenda read out by the committee and members of the NCOP had to constantly remind them of this.
"Drugs have become common in Mamelodi. We can even go out now with you and show you young children using nyaope [a cocktail of addictive drugs] in the streets," said an emotional elderly woman.
Other speakers blamed local police for turning a blind eye to criminal activities and for soliciting bribes.
Democratic Alliance member Solly Msimanga spoke about the bill.
He said it significantly undermined what many South Africans died for while fighting apartheid.
"This bill will be widely abused by government departments. We want to be able to know what the government is doing with our money."
Journalist Elias Maluleke disagreed, saying the bill should be passed without delay.
He said he and other journalists had worked under harsh conditions during apartheid and the media today could not say its work would be hindered by the bill.
"The media today is operating like a mafia. They are permanently damaging people's lives and hiding behind a public interest clause. Pass that bill in its current form," said Maluleke.