ANC debates local govt problems

African National Congress (ANC) leaders debated provincial and local government weaknesses at a three-day summit that started in Johannesburg on Thursday, calling for fewer provinces and better service delivery.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe focused on the Western Cape, the only province to be controlled by the opposition Democratic Alliance, saying the ANC needed to step up its game ahead of local government elections next year.

‘We are going to drift down into mediocrity,” he warned those attending the provincial and local government summit in Midrand.

Mantashe said delegates should ask themselves why ANC supporters sometimes did not vote for their own party on a local government level.

‘The debate must start off by doing a serious assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this sphere of government … and ask whether we are making a positive impact on delivering services to our people.

‘We must … ensure there is urgency in the delivery [of services],” said Mantashe.

Own biggest enemy
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said the ANC was sometimes its own biggest enemy when it came to service delivery.

‘A lot of work done by [DA leader and Western Cape Premier] Helen Zille is fulfilling what the ANC manifesto is saying should be done,” Mkhize told delegates.

He said party members needed to ask themselves in the next three days whether coordination between local, provincial and national government was effective.

“Ineffectiveness is caused by instability within the ANC. The causes are our own ill-discipline and inability to manage our own structures. That issue is what we need to cure,” said Mkhize.

A local government review discussion paper was presented to delegates, according to which provinces and local governments were not functioning “in accordance with their original founding objectives, which is resulting in inefficiencies in service delivery”.

“The matter of provincial government structures, as they are in operation today, in terms of both their political and administrative relevance, therefore needs to be revisited,” states the document.

Other issues on the table included the municipal demarcation board, which Free State Premier Ace Magashule criticised.

‘We have been talking forever’
Magashule said it was time to stop talking and start dealing with the causes behind inefficient municipalities, whose problems he partly blamed on the demarcation board.

He accused the board of recreating apartheid, by defining municipalities across racial lines.

The municipal demarcation board is an independent authority tasked with determining municipal boundaries.

“We need to do away with this demarcation board, it cannot behave like government … give us another board, I don’t understand it,” said Magashule.

He said many small towns were struggling financially and their situations were not going to improve soon if they were not incorporated into bigger municipalities.

“Those towns … even during apartheid, were doing far better than those municipalities today.”

Both Magashule and Gauteng speaker Lindiwe Maseko said it should be debated whether there should be fewer provinces.

“My view is, you can’t do away with provinces, if you want to do something, you may want to reduce the number of provinces.”

He also complained about the ANC doing too much talking.

“We have been talking forever. I don’t know why we are in Parliament or legislatures,” he said, to loud applause. — Sapa

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Fienie Grobler
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