Cape Town - Opposition parties in the provincial legislature are demanding that the State of the Province Address (Sopa) should have a platform where locals can participate and not just appear as invited guests.
This after speaker, Masizole Mnqasela announced that this year, as part of his commitment to take the provincial legislature “closer to the people” the speech, which marks the opening of the provincial legislature would be hosted in Velddrif, in the Bergrivier municipal area on February 15.
The event will be held in a hybrid format, with some members and guests in Velddrif and others in the chamber in Cape Town, or in their constituencies across the province.
The official opening and Sopa will take place in the Velddrif Town Hall. On February 16, members of the legislature will debate the premier’s Sopa in the same venue. The premier will then reply to the debate that afternoon.
Last year’s Sopa was held in Genadendal and the year before it was hosted in Mitchells Plain.
Leader of the opposition, Cameron Dugmore (ANC) said it was critical to correct “mistakes” from the last two Sopas where locals were not given an opportunity to address the legislature directly.
“While it is good to take the Sopa out to the regions, it should provide a platform for locals to actually engage. They are invited, but they should also have a session where there’s dialogue with us and the premier. Otherwise it is just a pretence.”
Good party MPL Brett Herron said that while the idea of opening the provincial legislature in different parts of the province is well-intentioned, so far the communities have not really been involved or invited.
“Last year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the invited guests were mostly DA politicians. With restrictions a little more relaxed, we must make sure that communities can participate. Otherwise we’re just a closed event taking place in their midst.”
Premier Alan Winde said the legislature belongs to every citizen of the province, and should be accessible to more residents across the province.
“I look forward to engaging with the opposition during the debate on the Sopa. I hope to hear new and fresh ideas that will help move our province forward.”