The committee received 449,552 “authentic” written submissions and Maila conceded that 65% of them opposed a constitutional amendment. He said, however, that this was “of no significance”.
Written submissions have become a subject for litigation. AfriForum tried but failed last week to interdict the parliamentary debate and the DA has announced intentions to take parliament to court over a flawed procedural process.
Maila said written submissions were in the main made by those who were resourced. He said that while being resourced was not a problem, the problem was whether written submissions meant meaningful public participation.
“Is the production of a computer-generated template – designed by one person, populating the template with his views and then allowing other people to factor in their names and contact numbers – to be referred to as meaningful public participation?
“Is the mass production of templates merely saying yes or no aimed at inflating numbers so that the committee may not be able to do its work meaningful public participation?” he asked.
He sought to clarify that the work of the committee was not to conduct a referendum and “anyone who makes an over-emphasis on numbers would be grossly out of order”.
Maila said no form of public participation carried more weight than the other. The committee held public hearings, written submissions were sent to parliament and oral submissions were also made in parliament.