This year, for the first time ever, the official Opening of the Western Cape Parliament, and this year’s State of the Province Address (SOPA), will take place at the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plain. Premier Alan Winde welcomed the historical announcement by Speaker Masizole Mnqasela on Monday.
The SOPA will take place on February 20th. Opposition parties said they will repel the move unless they are given a chance to respond at the same venue. But Mnqasela says opposition parties will be afforded the opportunity to respond.
“We will have SOPA on Thursday the 20th and that is for the Premier only, who will deliver SOPA, and on the 21st the seven [other] political parties represented in parliament will respond to SOPA in Mitchells Plain”.
Mnqasela says he can’t understand why anyone would find fault in Mitchells Plain hosting SOPA.
“The questions one should ask is, ‘Why not Mitchells Plain’ Mitchells Plain is one of the biggest communities in the Western Cape, in fact if one were to argue. It is the best place to do this.”
It is vital to involve the public in the decisions that are brought about by government.
“We have got to the point where people have become far removed from the day-to-day business of government. People are losing interest in politics and they are losing trust in political status.”
Mnqasela also raises the point that protest action is sparked by the fact that there is no communication by government and citizens. “There is protests day in- day out in many of our communities because there is no relationship with the elected representatives locally, and provincially. There is a deficiency that is caused by a trust deficit.”
Another added feature onto this years SOPA is that standing committees will be sent into Mitchells Plain prior to the address to gather peoples grievances, concerns, and comments. “Various standing committees are going to Mitchells Plain ahead of SOPA to look at the issues and interact and engage people so that we can address them.”
Mnqasela said the prior engagement will assist when the debates take place and that electives are able to properly draw up solutions and not making assumptions at the expense of the people.
“They must talk about the issues, the bread and butter issues that confront our people on the ground.”
The Address is opened to the public. “We are inviting stakeholders, civic organizations because this about getting people to work closely with the state, it is about getting people involved with parliament.”
Citizens of the Western Cape are encouraged to come out to Rocklands on the 20th of February and be a part of the SOPA.