ANC on drive to 'destroy' provinces

2010-10-15 14:07

Cape Town - The African National Congress is on a political drive to "destroy" the country's provinces, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Friday.

"The only question is whether it wants to reduce their number, change their powers, or abolish them altogether," she said in her weekly newsletter, published on the DA's SA Today website.

Zille said the ruling party had only one objective in mind. "(This is) to centralise power and prevent a viable challenge to the ANC at provincial level."

She labelled what she called the ANC's "drive to destroy the provinces" as "purely political".

Zille said that in an ANC discussion paper prepared for its national general council, held last month in Durban, it was stated that the "unitary state remains the ANC's philosophical orientation and point of departure".

It had then asked, rhetorically, "Have provinces improved the lives of our people in each province qualitatively and have they addressed the key socio-economic challenges facing communities in each province?"

Zille said that while it was true some provinces and many local governments had not functioned optimally, the question to ask was why not?

'ANC frightened'

"We must diagnose the problem accurately if we want to find the right solution. But the ANC is not interested in finding a solution.

"The sub-optimal functioning of some provinces is a useful pretext for it to centralise its own control, just as the poor quality of some journalism is a useful pretext for the ANC to try and control the media," Zille said.

Reasons offered by the ANC for wanting to alter the current provincial landscape were designed to cloak their real intentions, which was to prevent another party from governing better than the ANC and winning elections.

The Democratic Alliance's approach to government differed from the ANC's, including, among other things, a focus on job creation through business-led economic growth, greater oversight of the police and cutting out all lavish perks and parties.

"The point is that we are doing things differently, which is precisely what the ANC fears. (ANC secretary general) Gwede Mantashe admitted as much in September. The ANC is frightened that we will succeed where it has failed.

"In the debate over the future of the provinces, it is crucial that citizens and commentators alike do not simply swallow the ANC's reasoning.

"The most rudimentary research will demonstrate that the reasons currently being advanced are spurious. This is about power and control - just like the proposals on the table to silence the media," Zille said.