Civil society stages protest over city’s proposed gag bill

CIVIL society formations within Ethekwini municipality will stage a protest today, Wednesday 6 December at a meeting of council.

On the agenda this week is the proposed amendment of the Council’s Rules of Order which, if passed will see the public and the media barred from council meetings in future. The organisations opposing the proposed amendments view this proposal as unconstitutional claiming it removes transparency with regard to certain decisions and activities of the eThekweni Municipality and promotes a culture of secrecy.

ALSO READ: Council defers “gag” bylaw

The organisations are demanding that the Council and EXCO immediately withdraw the proposed amendments, especially relating to clause 7 of the Rules of Order, and make a public declaration that they are committed to openness and transparency in all council business. This clause places an obligation on council and its committees to be open to the public, including the media. Subsection 1 expressly prohibits the exclusion of the public, including the media from a municipal meeting except under specific circumstances.

If amended, this will in effect mean that important decisions such as the awarding of tenders, or reports of investigations into misconduct and corruption, will be hidden from the public. The protesting organisations say this will open the way to local government capture under our very eyes. A placard demonstration will be held on Wednesday, 6 December 2017 outside the ICC in Ordnance Road at 9am. The public, civil society formations and the media are invited to join and voice their opposition to the council’s proposal.

The following organisations are supporting this campaign:

Active Citizens Movement (ACM), Right2Know Campaign, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), Abahlali baseMjondolo, South African Muslim Network (SAMNET), Ubunye Bamahostela, Market Users Committee/SA informal Traders Forum, Democracy Development Program (DDP), C2U, Siyakhana – Ecumenical Community of the Paraclete, Silverglen Civic Association, Yellowood Park Ratepayers Association,, Elisheuk Youth NPO, 1860 Legacy Foundation, Chatsworth Poverty Alleviation Body, Durban Group of Amnesty International, Phoenix Drug Action Committee, Reservoir Hills Ratepayers Association, Mobeni Heights Ratepayers Association, Greenwood Park Ratepayers Association, Merebank Justice Network and The Dennis Hurley Centre.

  AUTHOR
Rudy Nkgadima

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