Opposition parties say the decision by City speaker Felicity Purchase to convert this week’s council meeting into a virtual one was an attempt to bully and silence them.
The parties said council meetings cannot be moved online without a rational and valid reason.
GOOD Party’s city councillor Jonathan Cupido said: “Moving it out of fear of disruption, or protest, from opposition parties does not qualify as a justifiable reason to abandon the transparent and democratic processes of public and physical council meetings.
“In fact, the speaker’s own party, the DA, was disruptive and unruly in the sitting of the National Assembly last week.
“There is no question that the DA would not accept a decision if the Speaker of Parliament were to decide to move the next sitting to a virtual platform.”
Cupido said they had written to the speaker to demand that council return to the Chambers of the City of Cape Town.
“As the custodian of the meeting, the speaker has accepted the responsibility to manage and apply the rules of council to ensure decorum is upheld and the meeting kept in order. This role must either be fulfilled in an effective manner, or the seat must be vacated. We will not remain silent or accept this abuse of power aimed at keeping councillors out of the meetings they are expected to attend in person, and for which they are paid,” he said.
EFF Cape Metro spokesperson Andiswa Madikazi said the decision was taken to silence opposition parties by easily removing and muting them from the online platforms when they were holding officials accountable.
“What the DA-led City is running away from is accountability.
Opposition parties have a right to hold the DA-led City accountable in whatever democratic means necessary, but instead of being accountable the DA-led City decides to abuse power and move important meetings virtually,” Madikazi said.
Purchase on Tuesday said: “In accordance with Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Order for the City of Cape Town, the speaker determines the date, time and venue of meetings of the council. As speaker, I have determined that Thursday’s council meeting will take place virtually, as has been done on many previous occasions.”