Ministers 'too busy' for meeting

07 November 2012 - 04:24 By DENISE WILLIAMS
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti Picture: GCIS
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti Picture: GCIS

Four government ministers have shunned the National Council of Provinces' R8-million imbizo in Northern Cape, leaving it to officials to speak to the unhappy community.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, Water and Environmental Affairs' Edna Molewa, Labour's Mildred Oliphant, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' Tina Joemat-Pettersson were absent.

A red-faced National Council of Provinces chairman Mninwa Mahlangu was forced to apologise to residents of De Aar, Northern Cape, when it became evident that none of the ministers invited to the gathering by the lower house of parliament had honoured the invitation.

The gathering, aimed at "taking parliament to the people", was a public hearings on labour, agriculture, rural development and water affairs.

Mahlangu admitted that the council wanted ministers, as leaders of the government, to deal with community members' concerns.

A number of the questions put by residents, he said, would be forwarded to the ministers .

Nkwinti was speaking at a business breakfast in Johannesburg. He arrived after lunch when the session was over.

DA MP Alf Lees said the ministers' no-show was evidence that they did not treat the parliamentary exercise seriously.

"Nkwinti obviously felt that the televised breakfast briefing was more important," he said.

An aggrieved resident of Britstown, near De Aar, said the event made him "nauseous" and showed that MPs were out of touch with the people.

"The councillors are sitting in front. They are the VIPs. Here we have been speaking about the bucket [toilet] system," the man said.

"Not one of them sitting on the white [covered] chairs in front of me is using the bucket system."

A struggling farmer from De Aar said there was no interaction between the government and the people.