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Don’t run public participation during year-end holidays

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) is petitioning Parliament to change public participation legislation to exclude such participation from running from 15 December to 15 January every year. The amendments are proposed because the government pushed through various stealth deals over the end-of-year holiday periods.

Today (Tues 15 August) OUTA handed in a petition to Parliament with more than 15 000 signatures backing up this call. The petition was submitted to the Office of the Secretary to Parliament.

“OUTA aims to assist Parliament with more effective public engagement and transparency whilst we also want to protect the public from undemocratic decision-making,” says Julius Kleynhans, Portfolio Director for Water and Environment at OUTA.

OUTA believes that the nuclear deal debacle – which the courts ordered must be restarted to include proper public participation – could have been avoided if there was genuine public participation.

The holiday period has been used to push through policy, laws or regulations on a range of issues including e-tolls, traffic law amendments and the National Energy Efficiency Strategy.

“Public participation is considered so important that it is the only requirement for which exemption cannot be given. This is because people have the right to be informed about potential decisions that may affect them and to have the opportunity to influence those decisions,” says Julius Kleynhans, OUTA’s Portfolio Director for Water and Environment.

“Effective public participation means more informed and thus better decision-making by government.”

A petition is a formal request to Parliament for intervention in a matter. “We need Parliament to intervene and amend the law. The courts, parliament and most businesses are closed from 15 December to 15 January and it is unreasonable to expect effective public engagement over this period,” Kleynhans adds.

Kleynhans recently explained the importance of public participation in policy and law making and how this process has been abused.

OUTA is a proudly South African non-profit civil action organisation, comprising of and supported by people who are passionate about holding government accountable and improving the prosperity of South Africa.

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