DA MPs walk out of committee meeting

Four Democratic Alliance MPs have walked out of a committee meeting in parliament in protest, they say, of being given insufficient time to study a strategic plan put together by the department of communications.

The national assembly of parliament in Cape Town

Parliament in Cape Town

Democratic Alliance MPs walked out of a briefing by the department of communications on its budget and strategic plan on Tuesday, saying they were not given enough time to prepare for the meeting.

Four DA MPs, from the portfolio committees on communications and telecommunications and postal services, walked out, saying say they only received the communications department’s strategic plan on Tuesday morning, the day of the meeting, and that they didn’t have time to study it.

“Legally, at this stage, only the department of communications exists as the separation of entities and projects between it and the new department of telecoms and postal services has not been finalised. Only the separate ministries have been formed,” MPs Marian Shinn and Gavin Davis said in a statement. Shinn is shadow minister of telecoms and postal services, while Davis is shadow minister of communications.

“The committees, which met for the first time, only received the department of communications’ 100-page strategic plan this morning and, a full committee programme during the day had prevented us from reading the document in preparation for engaging with the department on its plans for the coming year,” they said.

“A request to the committees’ co-chair to postpone the engagement with the department until Thursday was rejected by telecoms and postal services portfolio committee chair MT Kubayi.

“She rejected our request because ‘the department’s executives have been here all day from Pretoria and we cannot inconvenience them’.

“A follow-up request to the committees’ co-chair, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, of the communications portfolio committee, to give the committee an hour to read the relevant documentation was also rejected.

“At this stage, the four DA MPs left the meeting. We felt that we would be unable to properly do our job of parliamentary oversight and holding the executive to account without having appropriate time to prepare. The department of communications’ document has been ready for some time and could have been sent to committee members well in advance of today’s meeting.

“While we appreciate that all portfolio committees are working under extraordinary pressures to meet the budget deadlines, we are suspicious that the committee co-chairs were unwilling to allow thorough interrogation of the many issues seizing the ICT sector now that the department is being split.

“The co-chairs also denied committee members opportunities to engage with communications minister Faith Muthambi and telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele on public pronouncements they have made in the past fortnight on departmental issues, such as the proposal to give the minister of communications power to hire and fire SABC board members.  — © 2014 NewsCentral Media

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