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SPORTS and RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
5 April 2001
NEWLANDS STADIUM SOCCER AVAILABILITY
Chairperson: Ms N. Bhengu (ANC)
- Letter to the Chairperson from Cape Town Municipal Manager on Mayor's Behalf, 4 April 2001 (See Appendix A)
- Letter re: Expanded Newlands Stadium Uses from ANC Claremont Branch to Cape Town City Manager, 9 October 1998 (See Appendix B)
This meeting was a follow-up to the Committee's contentious 3 April meeting on the controversy around the use of the Newlands stadium for soccer. The Committee focused on the steps to be taken next in view of the failure of Cape Town Unicity Mayor Peter Marais to attend meetings.
The Chairperson, Ms Bhengu (ANC), opened the meeting by summarising the recent background on the contentious matter of the use of the Newlands Stadium for soccer. She noted that after several days of "mudslinging" between the South African Football Association (SAFA) and the Cape Town Council, precipitated by the SAFA decision to relocate the scheduled 5 May Bafana Bafana-Zimbabwe World Cup qualifying match, the Committee had decided to become involved. The Chairperson said the Committee's involvement is justified since the issue not only has caused pain to the nation but threatens to damage South Africa's image, as well as its bid for he 2010 World Cup.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had identified two issues at play here: the respective positions of SAFA and the Council on the Newlands controversy itself and the broader issue of racism in sports in South Africa. A recent example of this is the remarks related to the soccer/rugby doubleheader at the Absa stadium in Durban.
When the Committee first addressed the Newlands issue, it was decided that, rather than relying solely on media reports, facts were necessary to make a considered analysis, with input from stakeholders. To that end, a delegation from SAFA (including representatives from the three local PSL soccer clubs), representatives of stadium owners, Western Province Rugby, Western Province Cricket Association, and Western Province Sport MEC Piet Meyer were invited to a committee meeting on 3 April. Mayor Marais was also invited to provide information and to help find a solution since the Committee, while respectfully recognising the powers of his office, felt the Council holds the key to resolving the issue.
The Chairperson continued that though the Mayor was not present on 3 April due to a prior arrangement, she wanted to make clear that she had never said that he did not want to appear, and wished to correct any such perception. However, due to his absence the Committee was unable to proceed to a resolution, and at the end of that meeting, the Committee had "taken a resolution to summon" the Mayor to appear. Thereafter, Parliamentary law advisors were asked to advise on the Committee's options regarding the Mayor's failure to attend.
The Chairperson asked how the Committee could move forward in view of the Mayor's decision not to attend the meeting. The Mayor's indication of his willingness to meet with Minister Balfaour to discuss the matter did not excuse him from appearing before the Committee.
Mr Morkel (DA) asked whether discussion was limited to taking action regarding the Mayor, or could address the Newlands situation generally.
The Chairperson replied that in the Mayor's absence, the Committee cannot facilitate a solution, so it needs to discuss the general process.
Mr Chauke (ANC) then observed that as the provincial MEC, Mr Meyer, shares the Committee's view, the problem is clearly with the local Council. He suggested the Mayor was "confused" as to Parliament's role, and The Mayor's comments to the media that he fears being "humiliated" if he appeared indicate his confusion as to the Committee's intentions. Mr Chauke said it was now time to invoke the oversight powers contemplated by section 55(2) of the Constitution to compel the Mayor to account to Parliament.
Mr Louw (ANC), concurred with Mr Chauke, and requested that Chief Parliamentary Law Advisor Anton Meyer advise the Commitee on its options concerning compelling the Mayor's attendance.
Mr Frolick (UDM) then stated it was sad the situation had degenerated to this point. The Mayor could have "defused" the situation but instead had created "a crisis of national proportions". He went on to state that although the Mayor can meet with the Minister at his leisure, the Committee has its own prerogatives which must be satisfied. He concluded by stating that the UDM position is that the Mayor "has snubbed Parliament". Consequently, he endorsed Chauke's suggestion, subject to legal guidance.
Mr Ferreira (IFP) then remarked the tone of today's meeting was very different from that of 3 April. He said, considering the insults that were hurled then, the Mayor's comments and position on appearing were unsurprising. He suggested that some of the Committee members should focus less on their own rhetoric and more on what they are seeking to achieve. Further, in his view, if the Mayor were requested to appear and given reasonable notice, ie seven to ten days, it was likely he would appear. Mr Ferreira said this approach was preferable to seeking to immediately compel his presence.
Mr Momberg (ANC) said he agreed with Messrs Chauke and Frolick, adding that the Mayor's position adds weight to the positions of those who wish to move Parliament to Gauteng. However, as an alternative to immediately taking legal steps to compel his presence, he suggested the Chairperson attempt to deal directly with the Mayor as a means of achieving the necessary goal of allowing soccer access to all facilities.
Mr Morkel (DA) then noted his agreement with Mr Ferreira, commenting that the 3 April criticism and insults of the Mayor by the Minister and committee members amidst emotional outburst and debate were unfortunate. He further reminded the committee that it was important to remember that the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) minutes for the 30 March Committee meeting clearly reflect that the Mayor had conveyed his apologies for not being able to attend the 3 April meeting and noted his availability that afternoon. Moreover, the committee had accepted this with a tone much different from the vitriolic one of 3 April. As such, resort to Constitutional remedies to compel the Mayor's attendance was premature, particularly as the Mayor's attitude remains conciliatory. This leads him to believe that the Mayor would be amenable to appearing voluntarily in an atmosphere different from the highly charged one that prevailed on 3 April.
Mr Morkel then noted he had relevant information on the history of the matter which he wished to present to the Committee. The Chairperson forcefully cut him off, saying that she would not allow any member to present information that should be provided directly by invited stakeholders. In response, Mr Morkel asked whether members are allowed to provide information to a Committee. The Chairperson eventually answered by stating that while such presentation are not prevented by parliamentary procedures, the agreed role of this Committee is as "factfinder", and therefore such presentation of information is inappropriate.
In making such ruling the Chairperson effectively supported the request by Mr Chauke (ANC) that the DA be stopped from "preventing the process from going forward." In a similar vein, Mr Louw (ANC) had implored Morkel to "get out of that cocoon," after lamenting the fact that the issue had become a battle between the DA and the ANC when it is a national issue affecting everyone. Louw also stated that "at no stage on 3 April did the Committee insult the Mayor."
The comments continued with a female ANC member noting that in form and substance Fisher's response on the Mayor's behalf "undermines the Committee", leaving no choice but to "invoke the Constitution" and compel his attendance.
Mr Bruce (ANC) observed that if the Mayor was serious about saving the 5 May match for Cape Town, he should have no hesitance about appearing. Instead, his "spoiled boy attitude" leaves no choice but to look at sections 55 and 56 of the Constitution to compel his attendance, as he is acting against the interests of Cape Town's soccer fans.
Concerning the 5 May match, Mr Mlangeni (ANC) noted that per SAFA's 3 April statements, the 5 May match cannot be salvaged for Cape Town. He went on to note his agreement with Mr Chauke's suggestion, but suggested that, given the reality concerning the relocation of the 5 May match, and the impending parliamentary recess, implementation of actions to compel the Mayor to appear be delayed.
Mr Moonsamy (ANC) concurred with Mr Mlangeni, adding that after determining their legal options, they could be implemented later, depending on the Mayor's response to another request to appear. However, he reiterated that the 3 April criticisms were "just, if emotional," since some people "remain in laager while others are trying to transform the nation." Further, the letter of 4 April from Cape Town's Acting Municipal Manager, Dr. Fisher, makes clear that the Mayor has no intention of appearing voluntarily.
At this point Mr Morkel, as he departed the chamber, distributed to Committee members, and observers, a letter dated 9 October 1998 from Mike Kantey, ANC Claremont branch chairperson, to the Cape Town City Manager concerning the City's policy on the use of Newlands facilities. In essence, Kantey cited that because of the "growth" of the Newlands cricket and rugby facilities into national and international venues, the impact on the area, even beyond the immediate Newlands neighborhood, had been extensive. Night use of the facilities were especially intrusive. Consequently, ANC Claremont was lodging an objection to a requested application for use of Newlands facilities as a "multi-purpose venue", pending assessment of "fire safety plans, security, traffic, noise, and costs to the City," with public participation.
At this juncture the Chairperson summarised the situation, making the following statements:
1. The Mayor could have suggested an alternative time to meet the Committee, so members could read between the lines as to why he was unavailable to them when he had been willing to meet the Minister earlier in the day.
2. Her office had been in touch with the Mayor by phone and in writing, but the Mayor had not taken the trouble to personally respond, electing to proceed via his legal advisor and the media. As such, she could not be expected, as suggested by Mr Momberg, to act as emissary when the Mayor was avoiding her.
3. Further, the Mayor's goal of protecting the integrity of his office was curious, and the Committee could "read between the lines" and draw its own conclusions on the meaning of that position.
4. In view of the foregoing, the Committee "must apply its mind" to provide leadership to seek a resolution, keeping in mind the Mayor's course of conduct in responding to the Committee via the media, and noting that, contrary to the Mayor's published comments, "Parliament is above local government."
In response, Mr Chauke urged the Committee to move forward and get input from the legal advisor, noting that the Speaker could be consulted about the scheduling of further meetings during the recess, if necessary.
The legal advisor then reviewed the following concerning various Constitutional sections:
1. Under Section 56(a), the Committee may summon any person to appear before it for specified purposes, which provision is tracked by National Assembly Rule 138(a).
2. Under Section 56(c), a person may be compelled to comply with such a summons in terms of national legislation, or applicable rules and orders, such as those contemplated by Section 57.
3. As there is no recent national legislation applicable to compelling compliance with a summons, the 1967 Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act must be relied upon. However, under this Act the Speaker must issue the Summons, presumably after making a determination under National Assembly Rule 325(1) that the testimony of the potential witness is at least relevant, and possibly essential, to the matter in question.
4. Committee summonses are generally issued as "a last resort", and must provide reasonable time in which to appear.
5. In dealing with the current issue, Section 41 concerning "Co-operative Government" must be considered, and in this regard he cautioned that, while legislatively an act of Parliament may be superior to that of a local body, it may not be entirely correct to consider one branch to "be above" another.
6. Concerning the consequences of a refusal to comply with a summons, section 10(3)(a) of the aforementioned 1967 Act provides that such refusal is tantamount to "contempt of Parliament", and that this alleged offence can be tried by Parliament, sitting as a court. However, legal scholars such as Professor C Murray have seriously questioned whether this power is viable under the new Constitution.
After considering these legal opinions, Mr Chauke proposed that a smaller sub-committee be formed to initiate the process of the Speaker issuing a summons to the Mayor, and to examine applicable time frames, in consultation with the legal advisor.
Mr Mlangeni (ANC) then moved to amend the proposal to delay its immediate implementation. The Chairperson preliminarily ruled this suggested amendment to be out of order. She noted that there was an agreement in principle among the Committee to issue a summons to the Mayor.
The meeting was adjourned, to reconvene on 6 April.
4 April 2001
Office of the Acting Municipal Manager
Chairperson: Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation
Dear Ms Bhengu
Re: Newlands/Soccer Issue
You letter of earlier today (4 April 2001) refers.
It is not possible for the Mayor, Alderman Marais, to attend the meeting of your Portfolio Committee tomorrow.
A full day of appointments, including an important meeting between the hours of 12h30 and 13h30, has been scheduled. The Mayor's programme for tomorrow is in fact a series of scheduled meetings extending over the period for which you require his attendance. These meetings have been scheduled well in advance and form part of Council's programme for setting up its management structures which cannot be delayed. This programme has been negotiated with the newly appointed Municipal Manager who will take up his office at a later stage.
It would be appreciated if you could convey to the committee the Mayor's commitment to a non-racial utilisation of land rights in the City of Cape Town. To achieve this, the Mayor has already initiated a process to rationalise Council's zoning schemes, which he inherited when he recently took office. This exercise will be conducted within the legal framework prescribed for municipal planning matters. During this exercise, care would be taken to align our spatial planning regulations with the Constitution and any other applicable legislation.
Our Mayor has also indicated his willingness to discuss this mater at an executive level with the Minister of Sport, Mr Nconde Balfour.
Should you require it, a report will be submitted to your committee setting out the details of our rationalisation programme for town planning and land use related matters. We could also keep you informed of any developments in this regard.
Dr Stewart Fisher
Acting Municipal Manager
For the Mayor of the City of Cape Town
9 October 1998
African National Congress
City of Cape Town
Attention: Mr B Musinyane
Newlands Multi-purpose Venue
On behalf of the membership of the ANC in the Claremont Branch, we record that we are totally opposed to the application until the effects of the Cape Town City Council consent in 1992 to permit a "place of assembly" at the Newland Cricket Grounds is reviewed. In the light of the developments that have taken place there in the past six years.
These developments have demonstrated the impact of night cricket under flood lights. It takes little imagination to visualise the further effects of night rugby and soccer events at the adjacent stadium.
At the time that both cricket and rugby were located in their present positions, the spectators came mostly by public transport or on foot. The surrounding areas were not built up. The character of these grounds was that of a village green, and no serious impact of traffic or noise occurred. The residential neighbourhood was not unduly disturbed.
With the growth of these venues to become national and international venues, the neighbourhood has remained largely residential. No planning provision has been made for the increase in numbers and the intrusion of these numbers extends well beyond the Newlands neighbourhood. The impact over time has been extensive.
Night use of these sporting venues has added a major new dimension to sporting events and negative impact of the affected areas. Over-capitalisation makes increasing use for other commercial purposes almost inevitable. There is nothing that can stop this "thin edge of the wedge" in commercial terms if this were now to be allowed under current conditions.
Major sound intrusion by public entertainment in the adjacent residential areas is in direct conflict with the rights of the well-established residential are and its ratepayers.
We therefore lodge this objection unless and until a thorough assessment of fire safety plans, security, traffic, noise and costs to the City are properly assessed through a process of public participation.
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