Below is an interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with Deidre Carter (COPE), a Member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Minister’s Report on Nkandla, the Transport Portfolio Committee, and the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, on the Congress of the People’s position in relation to the Democratic Alliance (DA) motion calling for the dissolution of Parliament, and for snap-elections to be held.
Interviewer: Please could you provide context on COPE’s position in relation to motion to dissolve Parliament, which was recently debated by the House.
Hon. Deidre Carter: We started the process in 2015. In 2016, we said it again and again – the ANC is not going to get the House to order, that is what we need to do. 2017; the State of the Nation address, I actually did the address, and I said that this is the year that we can dissolve. So, in terms of the principal of the dissolution of Parliament, we absolutely support it, and we agree to it. But on the tactical side, we did not agree to it at this point. Now, it may sound confusing but, since we have made both declarations and statements, it is not just something you can do and render a country basically leaderless for the next 60 to 90 days. You also have to make sure that the IEC, will actually be able to have a snap-election – so the first thing we did was, take into consideration that there was the High Court ruling to say that all voters on the voters’ roll must have addresses; the fact that the IEC said that they did not have sufficient funding to finish that off, that all makes it a difficult situation, at the moment. Then yesterday morning (5 September 2017), the IEC confirmed that they would be in a position to have an election within 90 days; they would be able to pull it off. But, a person has also got to be very careful that we do not have a repeat of what happened in Kenya; the credibility, would it be accepted – it is not just something that we can decide on overnight, you have got to your homework in detail first, before you support that kind of thing.
For example, if you listen to the debate yourself, it would only be on a National level, that elections will be held, meaning that in 2019 we will have to have a provincial election – which will then give you three (3) elections in the period of five (5) years. Financially, can the country afford it? Remember, those funds are actually coming from the fiscus; meaning that at the end of the day, that that is just money out of a purse. Now, that is not the sole reason; it needed more thought to go into it, and more planning, to go into it. So, with a tactic of an ‘overnight decision’ to just take this to the House – we did not agree with that tactic. And therefore, we actually abstained.
What is the position of COPE going forward?
We still believe that they ANC is not going to get its house in order, and that the climate outside is correct, and everything we do, we must put South Africa, first, we must put the nation first, the South African first. We are really saying that this motion was premature; there is also a matter in court at the moment on exactly the same issue. You know, we are waiting for that ruling to come out; so it was really a premature one, to try and jump in a process which has already been started by other opposition parties – I mean the UDM, COPE and all of us are involved in that application for the dissolution of Parliament in the courts. This is one of the reasons why we felt that maybe it was premature. We still agree, totally, with the principle of doing it, but there are a lot of things which need to be taken into consideration; you cannot just, overnight, decide that you want to dissolve Parliament – you have got to do homework.