South Africa: Technology Holds the Key to Public's Involvement in Eastern Cape Legislature's Virtual Meetings

analysis

Those affected by decisions have a right to participate in decision-making, and the pandemic demands leadership and direction from elected representatives to facilitate the public's involvement as well as access to data to facilitate engagement through electronic platforms.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented both opportunities and challenges to the functioning of legislatures across the country. They have responded to this unprecedented time in varied ways to ensure that they continue to carry out their mandate effectively under the circumstances, but have done little to ensure the facilitation of public involvement from the start of the pandemic to date.

In a statement issued on 16 April 2020, the presiding officers of Parliament rightly outlined that there has never been a more important time to intensify Parliament's technological capabilities to ensure that the execution of its constitutional responsibilities continue uninterrupted.

While Parliament has stated that it will prioritise a schedule of virtual committee meetings whose scope of oversight relates to government departments driving Covid-19 measures, public access to virtual committee meetings continues to be a problem.

Public participation is the bedrock on which our democracy rests. The Constitution of South Africa calls for public access to and involvement in the provincial legislative...

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