DA calls on KZN Speaker to act as Members are denied the right to particpate

Radley Keys MPP Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature The Democratic Alliance in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has written to provincial Speaker, Peggy Nkonyeni, calling on her to act after members of the Transport portfolio committee were last week barred from participating during a meeting. The incident took place at a meeting of the Finance portfolio committee. There are two committees that deal with the province’s finance, SCOPA and Finance. They then invite members of various portfolio committees, which have oversight over departments, to attend their hearings. On Friday last week, the chairperson of the Finance committee ruled that those transport portfolio committee members who were not members of the Finance committee could not participate in the hearings, pose questions or make statements. The Finance chair said her ruling was to enable her to “get the meeting over with”. Not only does this ruling fly in the face of the Rules of the House, it is also a direct move to obstruct the opposition from its oversight role. According to Rule 147 all Members of the House may attend and participate in committees and sub-committees of the House but do not have the right to vote. The Rules can only be altered by the Speaker and the changes must be adopted by the Rules Committee. The DA has written to the Speaker about this. Members who are denied the right to participate at these meetings are reduced to mere observers. Furthermore, the Legislature pays for the travel and accommodation expenses for these Members to attend the meetings. If they are then not afforded the right of participation then this must be interpreted as wasteful expenditure. The DA does not consider Friday’s ruling to be an isolated incident and believe that this may be the practice in other committees and sub-committees of the House. I have called on the Speaker to remind Chairpersons of the Rules that this is not permitted. The DA expects the Speaker to act and ensure that the Rules applicable to the right of Members to participate in these two committees are enforced.

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