ANC piggybacks on state machinery

2014-04-27 15:00

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Sandton branch circulates flyer inviting public to ‘roads agency’ meeting

An ANC branch flyer that was recently circulated in Joburg’s northern suburbs will not do much to kill perceptions that the ruling party is using state machinery for its election campaign.

Earlier this month, the ANC’s Sandton branch circulated the flyer, in the party’s bright colours, inviting the public to “join JRA [Johannesburg Roads Agency] for a public meeting” after the agency announced a R60?million budget to repair roads and bridges damaged by recent heavy rains in the Gauteng area.

The meeting was to be attended by Matshidiso Mfikoe and Christine Walters, the members of the mayoral committee of the City of Johannesburg respectively responsible for environment and infrastructure services, and transportation.

The back of the flyer trumpeted the ANC’s history over five and 10 years. It did the rounds on Twitter, with users asking if it was a JRA or ANC flyer, and others suggesting the party was “blurring the lines” between the party and the state, and “using JRA for political purposes”.

A copy of the flyer was posted on the branch’s Facebook page a day after DA leader Helen Zille detailed instances where the ANC allegedly abused state resources. These included the agriculture, forestry and fisheries department’s Fetsa Tlala programme, a R2?billion initiative aimed at ending hunger.

The DA alleged ANC activists were distributing the programme’s T-shirts to the public.

Other allegations surrounded food parcels distributed by the SA Social Security Agency, government advertising “designed in clear ANC colours and all carrying only slightly edited versions of the ANC’s election slogans”, and state events hijacked for ANC rallies.

Some of the claims are currently being probed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, according to Zille.

City Press asked JRA managing director Skhumbuzo Macozoma about partnerships with outside entities or organisations.

He said partners had been identified as part of Strategy 2017, the agency’s five-year corporate strategy focused on repairing and improving road infrastructure, and rendering the agency solvent.

Asked if the flyer represented one of these partnerships, Macozoma looked at it for a long time and shrugged.

He then said the agency reported to the political leadership in the form of the city’s mayoral committee members, and referred all political questions to Mfikoe or Walters.

When asked about whether the JRA had allocated any funds to public meetings such as the one held in Sandton, he said he did not know, and again urged City Press to speak to the mayoral committee members.

Approached for comment, Mfikoe said the party had explained to the Sandton branch the flyer “is wrong”. But by Friday, a copy of it was still on the branch’s Facebook page. Mfikoe said: “[Walters] just attended the meeting. They had questions that they wanted the JRA to answer. [We] can be called by any party to explain.”

Mfikoe added the meeting was a simple information session between the community and government representatives responsible for service delivery, and had nothing to do with the ANC’s election campaign.

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