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Manifestos: Power must be devolved to citizens

Chantelle Benjamin

Agang SA and Cope both presented election manifestos over the weekend, envisaging active governance and oversight by individual citizens.

Agang leader Mamphele Ramphele (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Agang party leader Mamphela Ramphele presented her party’s manifesto this Saturday in Atteridgeville in Gauteng, and promised policies by her government that would devolve power to citizens, to "leave the state to do the basics". In presenting what the party has referred to as the "Citizen’s manifesto" she said the party dreams of "building a new type of state where citizens realise their potential and take responsibility for building the country of their dreams".

She acknowledged that there had been a number of improvements in the lives of South African citizens since 1994 but "we do not have the life we deserve, we are not the best we can be" she said, pointing to tenderpreneurs, corruption politicians, lack of schools and poorly maintained hospitals. The manifesto talks about devolving authority of schools, hospitals and police stations to the people they serve, so that citizens can hold them accountable.

To undertake this, she said the party will work to develop local government management skills. Ramphele said in return, however, citizens need too "take pride" in their country and not to expect hand outs. She said she would not be creating jobs, seeing this as the role of the private sector, not government. Government’s role was to empower people with a good education, bursaries, and opportunities for small business growth, among other things she said.

Five E's

The plan for her government was built on five cornerstones namely: empowerment, education; entrepreneurship; employment and effective government. On the subject of empowerment, she said the ANC had spent "20 years auditing scorecards with little attention paid to making a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens."

"We now need empowerment that makes a difference, such as good schooling; safe communities and an effective state." Among proposals Agang’s manifesto is the linking of government salaries to scorecards; setting up one-stop hubs in human settlements to support small businesses and greater co-operation between industries and government to speed up quick regulatory change, as well as government land.

Cope manifesto

Cope’s manifesto entitled "South Africa deserves a better government" said its government would support the National Development Plan, but said it would structure the budget to ensure that "more funding and capacity is directed towards local government so that service delivery is enhanced and communities' participation is included in the supply of services".

The main areas covered in Cope’s plan was putting in place a government that empowers people; growing the economy and sustaining development; creating a world class education system; quality and universal healthcare and safety and security for all. Among the things mentioned in the manifesto is creating a user friendly plan for the reporting of failure in municipal service delivery, such as water supply, refuse removal, municipal maintenance and other services can be easily reported.

It also plans to see the reform of the electoral system so the president can be directly elected by voters, rather than the present system of elections taking place from within the ranks of the dominant party, the ANC. With the same applying to MPs and Mayors. It said its government would ensure that public service unions were not aligned to any political party; protect of free media and free speech; and put in place a higher pass rate than the present 30%. It would also reopen teacher training colleges. It would keep clinics open 24 hours and ambulance serves stationed at clinics in rural and informal areas to ensure a better response time.

Similarities

Both parties recommended that under its plan utilised state land would be made available for housing and agricultural purposes, especially since land redistribution was taking place at a very slow pace. They both said they would review legislation to make establishing and obtaining funding for small business easier. These parties have something else in common. Both come to the elections in the midst of negative publicity. The brief ill fated marriage between the DA and Agang did immeasurable damage to the image of Agang, while Cope which performed well in the 2009 elections had been plagued with infighting and public spats, which undermined much of the advantage it had in the last election.

The Freedom Front Plus also presented its manifesto this weekend and its main point was recognition of the variety of cultures and the value that each brings. He accused the ANC of "tyranny of the majority" that did not allow for minorities to be present. Party leader Pieter Mulder said it was this realisation that had led the FF Plus "to rework its mission statement to attract not just Afrikaans speakers", but "to propose a plan what will "not only inspire Afrikaners but also other minorities, groups and as many South Africans as is possible". Whatever was required to ensure the removal of the ANC, he said.

The party’s government would ensure self-determination by communities and the protection of their rights and interests, the establishments of quota free zones in Pixley ka Seme, Mgcawu and Namakwa, which are predominantly Afrikaans speaking, improved education, removal of affirmative action, greater assistance and research relating to agriculture, and a review of the e-toll system, particularly around fees are collected and enforced.

The party supported land redistribution, saying there was enough to go around, but under its rule, redistribution would be better handled. The FF Plus is part of a coalition called the Collective for Democracy, which also includes The Christian Democratic Party and the United Christian Democratic Party.

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