The Ad Hoc Committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution will return to Polokwane in Limpopo on Saturday, 7 November, in order to hold the public hearing it had to cancel more than a week ago due to disruptions.

The committee met yesterday to discuss the way forward regarding that hearing, as well as a further request for a public hearing in Limpopo’s Waterberg district. The public hearing was disrupted on 25 October when a group wearing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) regalia forced their way into the hall, which was already full in compliance with Covid-19 Level 1 regulations. The EFF supporters refused to wait outside the hall for an opportunity to make inputs later in the day. The leader of the delegation, Adv Bongani Bongo, in consultation with other Members of Parliament and security structures called off the meeting in the afternoon due to health and security concerns.

Yesterday, Committee Chairperson Dr Mathole Motshekga said; “As a people’s Parliament, the committee cannot run away from the people.” It is therefore important to go back to the public to give them an opportunity to make inputs.

Committee Member Dr Annelie Lotriet said the disruptions in Polokwane occurred because the EFF and the African National Congress (ANC) could not control its supporters. She asked what measured would be put in place to ensure the incident is not repeated. Another Committee Member Mr Floyd Shivambu said EFF supporters should never have been involved in a scuffle that led to the disruption of the hearings and agreed that the committee should go back to Polokwane for the hearing. Dr Motshekga assured the meeting that the challenges experienced in the cancelled meeting will not occur again, as it will be “politically managed”.

Regarding the request by farmers in the Waterberg area for a public hearing in this district, the committee resolved not to concede to the request, but rather to stick to its programme for the public hearings previously agreed to. Committee Member Ms Dibolelo Mahlatsi said everyone was given an opportunity to make written submissions. “The committee cannot visit every community; that is why written submissions were provided for. If we open this up now and another farming community comes with the same request, does it mean we will have to go back to them also?” Several other MPs supported this position.

Dr Motshekga said as a democrat he agrees with the majority decision on the matter and will not grant the request for a hearing in the Waterberg area. The committee will hold its public hearings in Polokwane on Saturday in the Jack Botes hall.

Rajaa Azzakani
3 November 2020