MPs clash over ’DA firearms summit’
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The chairperson of the police portfolio committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has lashed out at DA MP Andrew Whitfield, whom she accused of planning to convene a firearm summit.
“The committee is concerned that Mr Whitfield has chosen to politicise the matter of firearms when all members of the committee work together without politicising matters we are seized with,” Joemat-Pettersson said.
She made the statement as the DA prepares for a virtual Firearms Summit on Tuesday.
The summit will bring together civil society organisations, academia, interest groups, and members of the public to deliberate on the recently published Firearms Control Amendment Bill, which will soon be considered by the portfolio committee.
Joemat-Pettersson said she was disappointed in Whitfield’s decision, because his invitation was misleading to invited guests and members of the public.
“Firstly, it is not a South African Firearms Summit as the invitation states. It is a DA Firearms Summit, convened by the DA, and we call on firearm owners associations not to be fooled or misled on this matter.”
She said the proposed summit would exclude a number of people and stakeholders, including the members of the portfolio committee on police.
“Also, it is pertinently untrue for Mr Whitfield to allege that the portfolio committee has done nothing about the Firearms Summit it committed to convening in early 2020,” Joemat-Pettersson said.
She said the portfolio convened the first Firearms Summit in 2015 and that it proposed the second one in 2020.
When Covid-19 broke out last year, the committee’s plans for a summit were disrupted but not cancelled.
“We have consistently raised the matter of the summit in the portfolio committee meetings that Mr Whitfield was part of. We have met with some of the key stakeholders in the firearms industry to deal with the Central Firearm’s Registry.
’’Mr Whitfield (as were all members), was invited to the meeting. He chose not to attend that meeting.
“Stakeholders in the firearms industry attended an unofficial meeting convened by the chairperson on 22 April 2021, including Mr Whitfield’s colleague in the DA, Mr Terblanche, who made a critical input.
’’The question of the summit was raised in the meeting and there was agreement that it should be convened,” Joemat-Pettersson added.
In response, Whitfield said he has noted the statement of the chairperson of the committee.
He said the firearms summit communication clearly stated that it was hosted by the DA so it was not misleading in any way.
“The DA is the second biggest political party in SA and the official opposition. We have a duty to engage stakeholders on such issues and to participate fully in such debates as a key role player in the public domain,” Whitfield added.