Cape Town – The legislature’s standing committee on the premier and constitutional matters has decided to extend the public participation process related to amending the provincial constitution to remove the post of environmental commissioner.
During a meeting held to discuss the way forward on the process, committee member Wendy Philander (DA) proposed that the exercise be extended to cover the Cape Winelands area.
“We all realise the importance of public participation, and I would specifically want us to visit the towns of Wellington, Worcester and Stellenbosch, if possible.”
So far, public participation meetings on the issue have been held in Mossel Bay, George and Saldanha, and a hybrid hearing was held online and in the legislature in Cape Town.
The dates of the extended hearings will be announced after the committee chairperson consults with the Chief Whip for dates in the legislature’s programme.
However, committee member Peter Marais (FF+) was not convinced about the purpose of the extra hearings.
“What is the purpose of the public participation? Are the people so well informed about the ramifications of a constitutional amendment?
“Are we going out to sell the amendment, or are we going out there to critically give the people the pros and cons of changing the constitution? Will those of us who are against the amendment be allowed to state so publicly?”
Committee chairperson Ricardo Mackenzie said the point of public participation was obvious from the term itself.
“All we will do is hear what the public wants. I can tell you that in a previous public participation, where the department didn’t want to institute a specific matter, the public said they wanted it, and that was it.”
The committee resolved to invite the legislature’s public education and outreach section to provide them with a strategy to improve public participation.
Meanwhile, Cameron Dugmore (ANC) proposed that at the next meeting of the committee, time be set aside to discuss the issue of the City’s refusing to be accountable to the legislature.