Letter Published in Cape Times 22 February 2012
Today the provincial parliament will elect a new Speaker after the DA redeployed Sheikh Esau to the national assembly. Publicly the DA says the reason for the change is Esau's ill-health. However the real sickness is the hypocrisy of the DA - giving one explanation to the public whilst MPLs know the actual reason is the illegal involvement of Esau in allocating tenders and the lies told to the public to cover this up.
In contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, Esau interfered in the procurement of transport for an oversight visit by the provincial parliament to the Southern Cape in 2010, ensuring that the contract was given to a friend.
When the ANC exposed this, releasing emails between Esau and the service provider, Helen Zille and Theuns Botha misled the legislature and the public, by blaming the then secretary of the provincial parliament Peter Williams. We then proved that this explanation was a lie, which was confirmed by the acting secretary in Scopa last year when he cleared Williams of any involvement in the matter.
Instead of apologising to Williams and the public for this deception and taking disciplinary action against Esau, Zille is quietly sending him to the national parliament. This is the reality of the "open opportunity society" she likes to pontificate about.
The DA will propose Richard Majola to replace Esau as Speaker. Majola, who has acted in Esau's absence in the past few months, has little understanding of parliamentary democracy and regularly embarrasses Zille in the House.
At the end of last year Majola crudely tried to protect Zille by refusing, against the rules of the House, to allow me to table a motion against the Premier. He then ordered me out of the House. The irony is that eventually Zille, the subject of my motion, had to get up and plead with Majola to allow me to table the motion and to remain in the house. Majola only relented because it was his DA leader who disagreeing with him.
A Speaker is supposed to stand above party politics and protect the integrity of the legislature by guaranteeing members freedom of speech in accordance with the rules of the House, even when he disagrees with what they say. Unfortunately, despite what we have been told was intensive training, Majola still does not understand these basic tenants of parliamentary democracy. He is completely one sided in his chairing of the legislature and because of his actions has never been able to build any respect from opposition members. Even DA members ridicule him in private.
Zille is now allowing Majola to be speaker to placate the DA caucus which is dominated by former National Party members led by Botha. She knows he is not "fit for purpose" but is prepared to sacrifice parliamentary democracy to patch up the serious divisions in the DA caucus.
The DA would do better to propose someone like Piet Pretorius as Speaker. Pretorius is a former secretary of the legislature, during which time he gained the trust and respect of all parties for the manner in which he conducted himself. Instead Zille is redeploying Pretorius to the legislature from national as the deputy Speaker, to try and manage Majola from behind the scenes.
It is precisely this kind of fronting which exposes the DA's view of its black members as well as their commitment to openness and parliamentary democracy. In the end it is the people of the province who will suffer as their parliament becomes a hollow pretence, like the former bantustan parliaments, unable to conduct impartial parliamentary oversight over a DA government which increasingly is failing to deliver on its promises to the voters.
Max Ozinsky, MPL
Western Cape Provincial Legislature
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