DA: Parliament must meet

2008-01-28 00:00

Cape Town — The Democratic Alliance will today ask National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to call a special sitting of Parliament to debate the national emergency that has arisen as a result of the electricity crisis.

DA chief whip Ian Davidson said yesterday the situation is now so serious that a debate on the matter cannot wait until parliament opens on February 8.

“Parliament must, as a matter of urgency, deal with the matter of who shall be held accountable for the crisis,” Davidson said. He said the debate must also examine the culpability of senior Eskom management, and what action will be taken against them.

The DA also wants to debate the implications of the electricity crisis on the broader economy, including specific reference to how government plans to alleviate the impact of electricity cuts on the mining industry.

“If not properly dealt with, then the next two to four weeks could well herald job losses in a sector which is one of South Africa’s largest employers,” Davidson said.

He said the DA also wants to discuss the effects of the crisis on small to medium size businesses.

“These enterprises form the backbone of the South African economy, and if they are not properly supported, then there is every chance that South Africa’s growth prospects for the next year will be fatally compromised.”

Additionally, the DA will call for answers on what kind of contingency plans can be put in place to ensure that World Cup 2010 is not undermined. “These include dealing with immediate concerns relating to the construction of stadia as well to ensuring a reliable power supply for the duration of the tournament,” Davidson said.

Also of importance to discuss is the impact on ordinary individuals whose lives have been affected and whose jobs are on the line.

“It is essential that Parliament exercises its oversight role. In the past, Mbete has chosen to reject a similar call to debate the suspension of the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Vusi Pikoli, and if she refuses this request then it will be clear that the Speaker is not serious about asserting parliament’s role as the representative of the people,” Davidson said.

The DA will today present a plan to help deal with the country’s electricity crisis, saying the steps announced last week by the government do not go far enough.

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