/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Kenneth Jacobs, is perplexed and disappointed by the blatant fabrications peddled by a member of the committee, Ms Michele Clarke, in a statement issued today concerning the public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill in Gauteng.
Dr Jacobs said he finds it reprehensible that a member has decided to politicise a legitimate process, and thereby denigrating the committee’s work and the general work of an institution she represents.
The committee has always adopted the spirit of cooperation and collegiality in discharging its mandate. It was in this spirit that the Chairperson consulted all committee members when the matter arose during public hearings on the Bill in Tshwane, where some members of the public could not enter the venue after it had reached capacity. The statement released by Ms Clarke undermines this spirit and shows signs of intent to malign a legitimate process of public consultation, the Chairperson said.
“It is disingenuous for the member to claim the moral high ground and claim that she personally and her political party intervened to ensure that people are given an opportunity to voice their objection to the Bill. This feeds into the false and unfortunate narrative that those outside the venue were primarily kept there because they disagreed with the Bill. The truth is that the Chairperson interacted with representatives of the group and reached an amicable solution that five representatives will make oral submissions and everyone who so wished could make written submissions. The committee reiterates that both oral and written submissions carry equal value,” Dr Jacobs said.
The member seeks to appropriate the immense work done by the Chairperson, the South African Police Service, parliamentary support staff and a local councillor who interacted with members of the public outside to calm the situation and present the alternative of written submissions.
The Chairperson and the committee have decided that the public participation process must be undertaken in a fair, open, and objective manner. The committee, through the Chairperson, has painstakingly tried to communicate the synopsis of the hearings in such a fair manner. The statement that Ms Clarke issued today undermines this undertaking by the members. Dr Jacobs reiterated that the committee would listen to all views, for or against the Bill, and will only decide on the matter when the time for deliberations arrives.
Dr Jacobs has called on members to show restraint and act within the bounds set by the Constitution and the rules of Parliament. He said the disingenuous intentions to malign a legitimate process of public participation must end.
Issued by the Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Kenneth Jacobs