DA steps up to run a parliamentary public hearing in the Eastern Cape as ANC is a no show

Issued by Alexandra Abrahams MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development
27 Jul 2023 in News
  • The DA stepped in to chair the first public hearing on the Older Person’s Amendment Bill in the Eastern Cape Province, as none of the members of the portfolio committee on social development were present.
  • Government has finally shown how little they care for the country’s old and vulnerable citizens.
  • The DA calls for an investigation into the reasons why the chairperson of the social development committee as well as those members of parliament snubbed this leg of public hearings.

See photos of the public hearing here, here and here.

Earlier this week, DA Shadow Minister for Social Development, Bridget Masango, stepped in as acting chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on social development after ANC and other members failed to attend the first public hearing on the Older Person’s Amendment Bill in the Eastern Cape Province as part of Parliament’s legislative public participation process.

Moments before the hearing was set to start at the Thobi Kula Indoor Sports Centre in Queenstown, Enoch Mgijima Municipality, the committee learnt the chairperson, Nonkosi Mvana, would not be attending, nor any other member of the portfolio committee who had previously committed their attendance. There were only two Members of Parliament in attendance, both from the Democratic Alliance.

Senior citizens travelled far from surrounding villages to give their input. Sincere and painful accounts of the many daily challenges they face in their communities and villages were heard.

The seniors detailed harrowing examples of elderly abuse; rape; prolonged court cases and secondary victimization during the case; clinics without medication and extremely far to reach; road infrastructure so appalling that ambulances and other services cannot reach them; no running water or ablution facilities; dilapidated and unsecure residential facilities which are constantly burglarized; and an overwhelming fear of their children and grandchildren who abuse them demanding their SASSA old age grant each month leaving them with nothing.

The DA will request the chair of chairs, Cedric Frolick, to investigate the reasons why the chairperson of the social development committee, as well as those members of parliament whose flights and hotel bookings were arranged, did not pitch for this leg of public hearings. Public hearings are an expensive process paid for by taxpayers, therefore, fruitless and wasteful expenditure can never be tolerated especially by Members of Parliament who on a whim do not attend.

The ANC’s failure to attend this public hearing underscores their disdain for the vulnerable and elderly. The ANC’s actions prove that they do not take the Older Person’s Amendment Bill or the plight of the elderly seriously.

The key amendments in the Bill include strengthen the protection and prevention of abuse of older persons; strengthen the coordination mechanism between government departments; eliminate harmful traditional practices including witchcraft accusations against older people; make provision to recognise the responsibilities of older persons in passing on inter-generational knowledge and wisdom; to make information and counselling on non-communicable diseases available; strengthen registration and monitoring of residential facilities and community-based care and support services; safe removal of older persons to a place of safety; inclusion of a person who has been maltreated, abused, neglected or degraded by a caregiver or family member as a person in need of care and protection; extension of the definition of physical abuse to include unlawful detention, medical sedation or shackling, deprivation of nutrition or medical care, neglect or exploitation of an older person in any manner. The Bill also seeks to make provision for the removal of older people to temporary safe care without a court order.

The DA, together with committee and parliamentary support staff, ran a successful public hearing on 24 July 2023, in a continued demonstration of our readiness to govern and lead with humility and honour, respecting the institution of Parliament and the people of South Africa.

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