DA walks out of Council meeting

2016-02-25 06:00

IN a Special Council meeting held on Tuesday to table the Adjustment Budget, the Democratic Alliance was forced to walk out of the meeting after the Speaker of Council, Magdalene Dhlomo, refused the leader of the official opposition, councillor Chimpie Cawood the privilege to present his concerns about the way in which his party is treated in Council.

Cawood mentioned that in principle, the DA supports the Adjustment Budget, but that he was not happy that the official opposition was excluded from the process in compiling the Budget as it was never presented to the Finance Portfolio, nor is the DA represented on the Budget Steering Committee.

“In the previous Council meeting, when the DA was denied their constitutional right to debate the Mid- Term Report, the Speaker made the ridiculous ruling that they can submit their input in writing after the meeting,” says the DA Caucus in a statement.

This is in sharp contrast with The Constitution that states that members of a Municipal Council are entitled to participate in its proceedings in a manner that allows parties and interests reflected within the Council to be fairly represented and be consistent with democracy. The Municipal Structures Act furthermore states that councillors have freedom of speech in a Municipal Council.

In response to the previous Council meeting the DA Caucus addressed a letter to Speaker Dhlomo raising their concerns about their Councillors not being allowed to debate in Council. This letter was completely ignored by the Speaker.

In the letter the DA highlighted that their councillors are being belittled in Council meetings, ignored when attempting to debate issues and that Council is being manipulated by two senior ANC councillors, who in effect run the meetings.

The DA demanded an apology, which was not forthcoming.

“The Speaker’s unreasonable rulings were again demonstrated in the Adjustment Budget meeting when she refused to recognise the Chief Whip of the DA, Danny Benson, when he tried to request a caucus,” according to the DA statement.

“This led to Benson leading the DA out of the meeting, while the Speaker was busy granting the ANC a 10-minute caucus meeting, further demonstrating just how biased the Speaker is.”

The DA says that it is unfortunate that the Adjustment Budget could not be debated, but the Speaker has to recognise the rights of the DA Councillors according to the Constitution before any constructive engagement can take place.

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