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ANC opposes virtual hearings on ‘unconstitutional’ Provincial Powers Bill


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ANC opposes virtual hearings on ‘unconstitutional’ Provincial Powers Bill

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1st March 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae
Creamer Media Senior Writer


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The African National Congress (ANC) strongly opposed the online public hearings on the Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill, presented by the Democratic Alliance (DA), which seeks the devolution of specific powers to the provincial and local governments of the Western Cape to improve policing, transport, energy, trade and ports.

The ANC has vehemently rejected the Bill and called it “unconstitutional" and also rejected the public hearings taking place virtually on Friday, as it believes it undermines the fundamental right of active public participation of all citizens in the process.


The ANC explained that virtual hearings would result in the exclusion of the public from the decision-making process, particularly those without Internet access.

“This exclusion disproportionately affects marginalised communities, where access to technology is scarce. In Cape Town, where socio-economic disparities run deep, this decision strikes a blow to the very essence of democracy – the right of every citizen to have a say in matters that affect their lives,” the party added.


ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri noted that central to the controversy surrounding this decision was the issue of power dynamics.

She explained that as the ruling party in the Western Cape, the DA holds significant sway over the legislative process, adding that with its numerical advantage, it possesses the ability to shepherd Bills through the assembly with relative ease.

“In this case, the virtual hearing serves as a tool to consolidate that power, effectively silencing dissenting voices and opinions. It is a stark reminder of the dangers inherent in unchecked political dominance – the erosion of democratic principles in favor of partisan interests,” she said.

Bhengu-Motsiri noted that the timing of the move raised suspicions, explaining that with the Bill nearing its final stages, the DA's sudden pivot to a virtual hearing “smacks of a calculated strategy to expedite its passage”.

“By eliminating the need for physical venues and the logistical challenges they entail, the DA streamlines the process, potentially sidestepping thorough public scrutiny and debate,” she said.

She explained that this raised serious questions about the party's commitment to transparency and accountability and accused the DA of threatening democracy. 


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