With the Democratic Alliance steadily gaining momentum, all indications are that the ANC has made up its mind about the future of the provinces and is now merely going through the motions to provide a façade of analysis and consultation regarding its proposed boundary changes. This, however, is nothing more than an attempt to strengthen ANC strongholds, being driven by the ANC’s fear of losing even more ground to the opposition, as well as its desperation to stay in power at all costs, even if it means that they have to go against the very principles of our democracy.
But it is not up to the ANC to decide the fate of our country. Instead it is up to the voters. This said, with an ever growing support base, both here in the Northern Cape and nationally, we remain convinced that the eyes of the people are being opened to the rot that exists within the current administration. The people are tired of corruption and empty provinces, they want service delivery, and the DA has proven that we can deliver. It will thus take more than a deceptive review of the provincial boundaries to stop the DA from gaining new ground and replacing ANC governments with our own.
We will fight hard to defend the constitution, which makes it clear that the provinces should be the bulwark of our democracy. They have substantial powers that should be implemented to the advantage of development and local empowerment.
It is true that provinces and many local governments have not functioned optimally. The question to ask is “why not?” It will take serious research and analysis to come up with an accurate answer, which is the key to finding the right solution. However, if the government decides to scrap provinces, or merge them, or turn them into mere administrative units of central government, before proper and detailed research is done into the causes of existing problems, it will merely exacerbate the problems they are supposedly trying to solve. In other words, service delivery will suffer even more.
As for the argument that costs would be saved by scrapping or merging provinces, this would be insubstantial, if indeed there would be any at all. The services provided by the provinces would have to be continued through decentralized arms of the central state, so there would be no savings in administration and infrastructure. Probably the only savings would be in the legislatures themselves, about 2% of total provincial costs, but even here it is likely that most of the legislators (whose support would have to be bought if the ANC were to prevent an internal revolt) would be re-deployed to other positions, taking their perks and fancy cars with them, saving little.
The DA-led Western Cape is an example of what provinces can achieve. Within just a year of having come under new administration, the WC succeeded all other provinces by achieving a full house of unqualified audit reports in all departments. Hence there is no doubt that provinces can succeed, as long as the political will is there.
Issued by Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Leader