Freedom means not abusing state resources

Bobby Stevenson (MPL)

Chief Whip of the Official Opposition in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature

The ANC keeps getting is wrong when it comes to the separation of party and state.  A total of R106 000 was spent by the Department of Humans Settlements in the Eastern Cape on radio adverts in April and May 2014.  This was revealed in a reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Human Settlements, Helen Sauls-August.

A DA-government in the Eastern Cape would ensure money is spent on building houses and not building the profile of the ANC during an election campaign.

The Department’s justification for these adverts was the celebration of 20 Years of Freedom.  I personally heard these adverts the day before the May 2014 general election, and on election day, on 7 May 2014.  The advert ended with same election slogan as used by the ANC during their election campaign – Taking South Africa forward.

The very freedom which the ANC purports to celebrate is in fact a freedom to abuse state resources for party political ends.  In established democracies there are laws preventing government departments engaging in any form of advertising six months prior to elections.

The abuse of state resources by this department also took place during the Ward 40 by-election in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro where the Kuyga community crèche, a building owned by this department, was used by the ANC as an election campaign office.

The blurring of the lines between party and state and the misuse of resources strikes a blow to free and fair elections.  This together with the misuse of the SABC, food parcels, threats around grants and targeting of DA-supporting communities forms part of a dangerous pattern.  This undermines the very freedom that we should be celebrating.

The IEC’s whose constitutional mandate is to ensure free and fair elections should be dealing with these matters.  The DA is taking up the abuse of state resources in general at national level.