Provincial Powers Bill hearing disrupted by capacity protests

Chaos erupted on Friday out at the Western Cape legislature. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Chaos erupted on Friday out at the Western Cape legislature. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 5, 2024


While the latest public hearing on the Provincial Powers Bill was postponed after chaos broke out at the Western Cape legislature, opposition parties have maintained their stance against the proposed bill.

Friday’s chaos followed disrupted public hearings in Worcester and Moorreesburg last week and prompted the postponement of the hearing, with civil and community groups, activists and opposition parties saying they were unable to attend due to the venue being too small.

The bill seeks to expand federal autonomy for capable provincial and local governments and to empower them to manage devolved functions such as policing, public transport, energy, and harbours from the national government.

Chief whip in the legislature, Wendy Kaizer-Philander, said: “Unfortunately, the ANC has been hard at work distorting public opinion on the bill, and has incited chaos at every public hearing across the province thus far. The effects of their inflammatory, irresponsible and incorrect rhetoric culminated in an incident on Friday night, during which opposition supporters charged the entrance to the provincial parliament and destroyed a security door in the process.

“Furthermore, MPP Isaac Sileku took a decision, supported by all parties, to postpone the hearings in the interest of public safety,” said Kaizer-Philander.

Opposition leader in the province Cameron Dugmore said if interventions by other opposition parties were not heard, “the hundreds of citizens standing in the streets would not have had their voices heard”.

“The DA has already divided this province on the genocide of Palestinians, in its support of a Zionist Israel onslaught. Despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order against Israel and finding that there is prima facie case that Israel is committing an act of genocide in violation of international conventions which must still be considered by the ICJ, the DA persists in its pro-Israel stand. The party even fired two of its own members for making pro-Palestine statements.

Apart from the unconstitutionality of this bill, we will continue to use all avenues available to us to ensure the bill does not see the light of the day,” said Dugmore.

SACP provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu said the action again proved the resistance to the passing of the bill.

“The developments at the legislature represented an indication that the majority of people in the Western Cape stand opposed to the Powers Bill ... Therefore, the writing is on the wall. Colonial Zionist apartheid DA is extremely exposed and is facing isolation. They can undermine the legal advice, but not the will of the people,” said Ngqentsu.

National Coloured Congress president Fadiel Adams said they “would have supported such a bill if a responsible provincial government was in place”.

“Sadly we don’t. We cannot support this bill. The DA does nothing if it does not benefit the white minority – they are not a government for all.”

Cape Times