NC does have the power to introduce a “no frills” ministerial handbook

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Leader

Derogatory remarks made about the Democratic Alliance by the Northern Cape Premier’s spokesperson, who yesterday lashed out at the DA for wanting to adopt a new ministerial handbook in the province, is proof that it is in fact the ANC and its cadres who have a “low level of understanding on how government works”, and not the DA, as Mr Mafu Davids so nicely put it.

What Mr Davids fails to understand is that provinces have substantial powers, as vested upon them by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Provinces are a sphere of government with the power to make policy and pass laws on a range of issues. In fact, even in “concurrent matters” in which jurisdiction is shared between national and provincial spheres, national policy and law can only trump provincial policy and law under specific and limited circumstances.

It is a disgrace that Mr Davids does not appear to know this. Mr Davids and the ANC want the public to think that it would make little difference if provinces were changed or scrapped. This is a myth but then again it is little wonder that the ANC is pushing the erroneous belief that provinces have very few powers, as it is this line of misrepresentation that forms the basis for their flawed argument to scrap provinces. The National Constitution is definitely not silent on the roles and responsibilities of provinces. Chapter 6 (Provinces) illustrates what provinces can and cannot do. Therein, section 104 describes the legislative nature of provinces, section 112 describes how provinces must take executive decisions and section 116 describes the internal arrangements of provincial legislatures. At the same time, section 125(2)(d)(f) describes the executive authority of provinces. Meanwhile, Chapter 10 (Public Administration), section 195(1)(b) refers to the basic principals governing public administration. It is behind this backdrop that we want to remind the ANC, or Mr Davids for that matter, what a fundamental role provinces can play, if the will to do so exists.

Where the DA governs, we use provincial powers to put our policies into practice. I have little doubt that this has been a key driver in the ANC’s plan to curb the powers of the provinces. But we won’t be stopped. The DA is preparing to govern the Northern Cape in 2014 and we are determined to translate our policy platform into a coherent legislative and delivery programme. This said we are working on a new Ministerial Handbook for Members of the Northern Cape Provincial Cabinet, which will be better aligned to the Public Finance Management Act, which promotes the objective of good financial management in order to maximize service delivery through the effective and efficient use of the limited resources.

The DA in the Northern Cape plans to reveal our substitute Ministerial Handbook to the public in three months time. By putting such a document on the table, we will be able to demonstrate our alternative approach to governance, and show that it benefits everyone, except for ANC cadres who misuse taxpayers’ hard earned money to fund their own luxurious lifestyles.

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