Chaos on Upington where Bela law is discussed

Henry

Spirits ran high when residents gathered at the Piet Thole Community Hall in Upington in the Northern Cape on Thursday to take part in a public participation process on the controversial Bela bill.

This apparently led to a dramatic exodus by the chairman of the provincial legislature, Limakatso Alfonsina Koloi, even before residents could cast a vote for or against the legislation.

Andrus Strauss, prime ministerial candidate of the newly formed #Hope4SA party, says around 600 people attended the meeting and most of them were opposed to the legislation.

Moreover, chaos had also broken out the previous day on Kuruman during the public participation process there, among other things due to alleged poor arrangements which apparently hindered processes for public participation in this province from the outset.

RNews has previously reported on frustrations experienced with provincial government departments’ communication and handling of processes for public participation on the Bela legislation; as well as complaints that communities’ input is treated with contempt.

According to Strauss, this was once again the case on Thursday in Upington.

He says clause 39 of this legislation has sparked a particularly heated debate, as it “suggests parental secrecy in relation to pregnancies and allows teachers to help minors obtain abortions without parental consent”.

“This controversial issue has prompted members of #Hope4SA and several other organizations to oppose the bill.”

Strauss collected a total of 64 petitions from concerned parents and teachers who could not participate in a vote on the bill the day before in Kuruman.

However, there was a big uproar when most people expressed their opposition to the intended law, with the result that the panel chairman (who had to facilitate the meeting) apparently refused to allow a vote.

Moreover, she walked out without taking any of the petitions handed to her with her.

“She just threw it down on the table before they walked out,” Strauss told RNews.

“These petitions, symbolizing widespread concern about the bill, highlighted the frustrations of those who were unable to participate in the voting process the previous day due to logistical constraints and the lack of provision of ballots.”

Strauss says that the sudden departure of the chairman has also raised major questions about the integrity of the process and raised concerns that an attempt is being made to mobilize only people who are in favor of the law to attend the meetings.

However, when the majority voted against the legislation on Thursday, the chairman refused to allow a vote, according to Strauss.

He is further convinced that the whole debacle was planned, but says communities’ voices will not be silenced. He also undertook to escalate the matter to the National Council of Provinces.

“We are fighting for our children’s future.

“I don’t want to see our beautiful country become like North Korea, where parents have no rights over their own children. Please go and vote against the bill for the future of your children and grandchildren.”