- Mar 6, 2004
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is in possession of what appears to be a government document that describes the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity for the “macro re-organisation of the state”, and proposes to make the Command Council system a model for government beyond the lockdown.
The document discusses the financial ruin in municipalities that it says is due to South Africa’s credit downgrade and the lockdown, and uses this as a gap to extend and consolidate central state control.
The credit downgrade and the lockdown did not result in municipalities collapsing, the ANC did.
The fundamental reason for the collapse of many municipalities across South Africa has been the ANC’s cadre deployment policies and the wholescale mismanagement, corruption and criminalisation of the state that followed. Municipal officials were not appointed for competency, but rather political expediency.
Apart from relying on bad government to solve the problems caused by bad government, the DA is most concerned by the constitutional implications of what is being proposed. The document seems to reveal an ANC plan to slowly roll back the powers of democratically elected local and provincial government.
This is nothing short of a coup d’état. The document literally invokes the phrase “Never waste a good crisis” and describes the response of government to the Covid-19 pandemic as “exemplary”, and proposes using the District Development Model and the Command Council system as a means of centralised government policy-making.
This model, it argues, “should inform South Africa’s economic response and it will do so in a way that will disrupt current and old ways of how government has been working”. It will also “bind” all spheres of government.
One of the specific proposals in the document has already been adopted: government ministers will be appointed as “district political champions” to oversee the other spheres of government. This presumably includes ministers like Lindiwe Zulu who can hardly manage her own department.