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‘Let’s get physical’: MPLs support calls for in-person meetings of the Cape legislature

ANC legislature caucus chief whip Pat Lekker wants virtual meetings dropped. File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

ANC legislature caucus chief whip Pat Lekker wants virtual meetings dropped. File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 28, 2022

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Cape Town - With all Covid-19 restrictions having been lifted, ANC legislature caucus chief whip Pat Lekker wants virtual meetings dropped in favour of face-to-face meetings and wants speaker Masizole Mnqasela to demand that all members physically attend the legislature.

Lekker said the DA was being hypocritical for not leading the calls to in-person meetings in the legislature and yet the party had been the most vocal in urging the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

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“On the one hand it calls for the country to return to normal, yet where it governs, members of the legislature, including MECs, continue to attend meetings and sittings on the virtual platform.”

Shortly after Lekker’s statement on Friday, the speaker’s office released a statement in which Mnqasela said that while as many members as possible should now physically participate in the sittings and meetings, virtual platforms would continue.

“We will also enhance our online platforms to encourage maximum public participation, for this remains a crucial part of our role as a people’s parliament,” Mnqasela said.

EFF MPL Melikhaya Xego said it would be selfish of politicians to expect everyone to go back to normal while they hid in a cocoon operating via virtual platforms.

ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians said: “We were always opposed to the Covid-19 regulations that killed our economy. The virtual meetings are only beneficial when we travel to our constituencies and do not want to miss out on sittings and standing committee meetings.”

GOOD Party MPL Shaun August said he believed virtual meetings should still be part of the legislature protocols as this allows members to do constituency work and attend legislature sittings from wherever they are.

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Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais also backed a return to in-person meetings but said he had no problem with standing committee meetings continuing online, as this would save the taxpayer money ordinarily spent on expense claims by MPLs who travelled to Cape Town.

Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger also urged Western Cape residents to take advantage of the lifting of restrictions and support events across the Province in a bid to claw back jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

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