16/04/2009 21:18 - (SA)
Cape Town - DA leader Helen Zille on Thursday accused the ANC of lying about its plans to change the Constitution to deprive local authorities of their powers.
"When I raised concerns about this bill on Monday, the Minister of Provincial and Local Government denied any knowledge of it," Zille said.
"He said: 'If Mrs Zille has such a document, she must produce it.' A spokesperson for his department also feigned ignorance, claiming: 'I don't know where [Zille] got it from but right now, as we stand there are no such plans.'
"ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said: 'The ANC wishes to place on record that it has no intention to diminish in any way the Constitutional powers of local government'."
However, the draft Constitution 17th Amendment Bill approved by the Cabinet, Zille said, empowers national government to usurp powers from local government, and provides clear proof that the ANC wants to change the Constitution to entrench its power.
'Don't let them get two-thirds majority'
"That is why it is so important to keep the ANC below the two-thirds majority it needs to pass the bill to change the Constitution," she said.
"If voters give the ANC a two-thirds majority, the ANC will destroy the capacity of other parties to deliver where they govern.
"This shows that the ANC lies, baldly and blatantly. It treats the people of South Africa with contempt.
"The rug has now been ripped from under the ANC, and six days before the election, the Cabinet has been forced into confessing its plans."
The DA leader and mayor of Cape Town said that the ANC wants municipalities to be reduced to administrative arms of central government.
The ANC now claims the purpose is merely to facilitate the introduction of Regional Electricity Distributors as public entities.
A grave mistake
"We believe this policy step would be a grave mistake on its own and seriously threaten the viability of local government," Zille said.
"But the way the Bill is worded means that its scope is far broader than that.
"It enables national government to limit the executive authority of municipalities in respect of local government matters listed in Part B of Schedule 4 and Part B of Schedule 5.
"This includes electricity and gas reticulation, water and sanitation, fire-fighting, refuse removal, waste disposal, markets, municipal roads and cleansing.
"This Bill will be interpreted widely to enable a centralised ANC to severely limit the mandate of an elected local government, especially where the ANC does not govern and where local authorities legitimately refuse to implement ANC policies.
If it manages to pass this Constitutional amendment, giving itself a range of reasons to undermine local government, the ANC could effectively nullify voters' choice and enforce ANC policy from the centre.
- I-Net Bridge (News24)