Cape Town -
The DA flexed its political muscles in the provincial legislature on Monday, using its majority to force the Western Cape parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to remove from the agenda an item dealing with irregularities in the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).
Sparks flew during the early-morning meeting, with DA members objecting to the item being placed on the agenda. Scopa chair, ACDP MPL Grant Haskin, demanded the matter be heard and ANC MPL Max Ozinsky accused the DA of political interference in the affairs of Scopa while trying to cover-up irregularities.
Steven Lukey, from SH Lukey and Associates, was set to shed light on irregularities in respect of the Northern Foreshore Development and proposed CTICC expansion.
According to Haskin, Lukey was involved in the expansion, acting on behalf of the Western Cape government, the City of Cape Town and media giant Naspers.
Things became so tense that DA members staged a walkout, only to return minutes later insisting that the matter be voted on.
Lukey’s presentation was never heard after Haskin was forced to remove the item when the DA voted three against the ACDP and ANC’s two votes. Haskin maintained that he was within his rights to place the item on the agenda without having to consult the committee.
He argued that, because the provincial government owned 25.1 percent of the CTICC, Scopa had oversight over the convention centre’s financial matters.
But DA MPLs Mark Wiley and Bokkie Geyer attacked Haskin’s integrity and reason for including the CTICC item on the agenda.
“We are going to deal with your integrity in handling of this matter,” Wiley said, claiming Haskin was doing it for political reasons.
Defending the attack on his integrity Haskin said: “There is no problem with my integrity. I have not brought this parliament into disrepute.”
Wiley accused Haskin of failing to follow proper procedure.
“We wanted to avoid embarrassing people from coming here under the impression they are going to get a hearing when in fact they’re not going to get a hearing,” he added.
Haskin conceded that he had been harassed by DA members, including Robin Carlisle, who he claimed had hounded him over the item being on the agenda.
Haskin showed the Cape Argus SMSes sent by Carlisle which read: “Grant I cannot believe that Scopa is entertaining this matter. Did it come to Scopa via you? I truly hope not. R.” Another SMS says: “Grant. If I can’t speak to you I must act as I consider necessary. R.”
Accusing the DA of a cover-up, Ozinsky asked for access to any communication exchanged between the executive and the Scopa chair.
“In particular if an MEC were to write or say to Scopa that it should not discuss a matter, I would immediately raise questions on what is the role of that MEC in such a matter. Because there’s no MEC that can tell our chairperson what to discuss and if that took place it’s a very serious matter and it makes the actions that honourable Mark Wiley and Geyer are bringing here even more questionable because then it says to us there’s a cover-up.”
Ozinsky said Scopa could not be seen to be covering up issues of severe significance for governance.
“What is happening here simply is an attempt by the ruling party to cover-up on this matter. It’s a political decision, and we know that because the MEC Carlisle sitting here himself has thought it fit to engage with the Scopa chair on this matter. Which is completely irregular for an MEC to determine what is on a Scopa agenda,” Ozinsky said.
Speaking at a media briefing Lukey said his attempts to expose the irregularities continued to hit a brick wall while Haskin vowed to continue to get the item placed on Scopa’s agenda.