Former president Thabo Mbeki has taken aim at the ANC and criticised the party over its support for synchronised elections for the country.
This comes as the debate rages for the combination of general elections, which include provincial and national polls, and local government elections to cut costs and administrative burden on the part of the IEC and political parties.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen public gatherings being banned has seen the talk over the synchronisation of elections increasing as it was anticipated that next year’s elections could be postponed if the virus had not been defeated.
In the monthly newsletter of his foundation, Mbeki warned that municipalities were currently marginalised and abandoned by the ANC compared to other upper spheres of government, including in terms of governance monitoring, deployment of key people and fiscal allocation, and that combined elections would see local government further relegated to the margins.
He criticised the reasons given by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule on the decision by the national executive committee to push for the synchronised elections, including that it would “assist us understand and run government properly, efficiently and actually try to understand how to assist the local sphere”.
“It is obvious that the core of the winning argument about an eminently political matter was administrative rather than political. It was also based on what is clearly a strange understanding of what is needed to achieve “seamless governance,” he said.
He pointed out that graft and poor governance and looting continued with little abate municipalities, indicating that the synchronised elections could liquidate the needed individual focus on the local sphere.
Mbeki said the ANC had from Day 1 deployed most of its senior leaders to executive, legislative and administrative positions of upper spheres of government, which he said was against its Ready to Govern (R2G) document which was its policy guideline which it adopted in 1992 in preparation for taking power in 1994.
“The role the ANC projected for local government as early as in the R2G document suggested that it should have split its most senior cadres between national and local spheres. This was not done,” he said.
According to Mbeki, the ANC had by the end of former president Nelson Mandela acknowledged the “mistake” it was making in relation to deployment and began to address it during his presidency, which saw the appointment of the current chairperson of the National Council of Province (NCOP) Amos Masondo as the mayor of Johannesburg in 2000 and the appointment of Duma Nkosi as Ekurhuleni mayor in 2001.
Mbeki said the ANC-led government has since 1994 allocated the smallest share of national revenues to local government.
“The reality is that essentially only the historically white areas of our country had the possibility to generate meaningful revenue streams likely to be of some help with regard to helping provide the municipal governments with some of the resources they need.”
He pointed out that the ANC had failed in the past decades to realise the strategic objectives it has set for local government contained in R2G.