Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele has opted not to join the DA’s Gun Summit on Tuesday.
The summit, which is being held virtually, comes as the official opposition opposes the Firearm Control Amendment Bill which scraps self-defence as a reason to qualify for a gun licence.
Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said: “Minister Cele will not be taking part in this summit. He would much rather take part in a multiparty discussion that affords other political parties and not just a single party to have this discussion.”
Civil society organisations, academia, interest groups, and members of the public shared their opposition to the bill.
DA MP Andrew Whitfield opened the summit by saying, besides being opposed to the self-defence aspect, the party believed there were other issues with the Bill including the impact on the hunting fraternity, private security and gun collectors who were the cultural custodians of firearms.
“We are fundamentally opposed to it. We believe it is an ill-considered piece of legislation. There are other options to deal with the problems it purports to try to address.”
Whitfield and the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, were at loggerheads about the hosting of this summit. Joemat-Pettersson said the DA was attempting to politicise the matter.
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald agreed with Joemat-Pettersson, saying the Bill must not be politicised for political point scoring.
Whitfield said he was unapologetic about hosting “this important summit”.