Government disregard for public participation undermines faith in democracy

Lebo More MPL

Spokesperson on Petitions

Gauteng government departments and municipalities are the greatest obstacles to meaningful public participation as they continue to undermine the Petitions process and committee in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

Committee Chairperson Lindiwe Lasindwa stopped short of admitting this in response to a question during a radio interview on the challenges the Petitions committee is experiencing.

The reality is that  municipalities and departments generally fail to respond on time or even submit follow up reports as required until they are subpoenaed by the committee.

There appears to be a general sluggish attitude by provincial departments and municipalities towards the genuine concerns expressed by Gauteng residents through the petitions process.

These departments are often given more than two weeks to respond and often fail to meet deadlines without offering an explanation. It is hardly surprising that residents lose faith in the public participation and petitions process and take to the streets instead, as is the case in Bekkersdal.

The Auditor-General previously found that the Westonaria Local Municipality, which governs Bekkersdal, made changes to performance objectives without communicating them to the public and without approval by the council, as required by legislation.

The DA calls on all Gauteng Provincial Government Departments to respond timeously to the requests for reports. Public participation and petitions is a constitutional necessity and a cornerstone of our new democratic dispensation.

Gauteng departments and municipalities must not further undermine the trust and faith of residents in democracy by scoffing at their pleas for help.