Earlier this week, on Monday the 6th of July, the Democratic Alliance announced that they were in possession of what they called a “Top Secret Document” which may point to a shocking and well-laid plan by the ANC government to roll out a countrywide command council system. This would effectively bring about a mechanism which will grant the ANC government power to centralized policy and decision making and planning without the need for district or provincial inputs. In other words, you as a resident of Limpopo will no longer have a say in what the government decides is best for your province and your district or even your municipality – because there would be no more local elections.
Bulletin spoke to Phalaborwa-native Cilliers Brink of the DA, who first raised the alarm about what appears to be the government’s proposal to re-purpose the District Development Model announced by President Ramaphosa last year.
The District Development Model was an idea by the president which appeared to be aimed at improving the inter-governmental relations between the various districts in provinces and speed up service delivery. Though not much clarity has been offered on the motive behind the proposed model or the estimated date of implementation.
“If the idea behind the District Development Model is indeed to speed up service delivery and iron out some of the issues faced by municipalities which hampers service delivery, why doesn’t the government use the tools and structures currently available to them?” asked Brink. “It all still seems a little too clandestine. Much like this 45-page document we have in our possession. We need to get the President to look at the document and tell us whether this is legitimate, and if it is, what the purpose behind the plan could be. And if not, who could have been responsible for its drafting and why. Could it be that the president is not aware of the existence of this document? There are just too many questions that need to be addressed urgently and that is why we have raised the alarm.”
It is rather difficult to believe that a 45-page document allegedly (Bulletin has not been privy to the contents of the entire document at this stage) containing detailed information about a complete power grab and reportedly drafted out of the office of minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, could be little more than an elaborate hoax or even fear mongering by the opposition to score cheap political points. More difficult to fathom would be, to what end.
“This is why we have not declared the document to be legitimate or some kind of Holy Grail. We are not conspiracy theorists, but the existence of such a document is cause for concern which is why we want to give the president the opportunity to respond to this, but we cannot simply keep quiet about something that has the potential to completely change our way of life.”
According to Brink the document refers to “macro re-organization of the state” and even uses the phrase “never let a good crisis go to waste”. He further said that the document argues for the formal centralization of government power as a way of saving bankrupt and dysfunctional municipalities. Brink added in a post over social media that at no point the President or any member of his cabinet had openly suggested that the District Development Model should be anything more than a way of facilitating better intergovernmental relations. Neither has anyone proposed on record that the so-called District Hubs be given decision making power. Yet according to him, this is precisely what is being touted in the “top secret” document.
In our conversation on Wednesday, Brink explained that the government further planned to dispatch ministers to these proposed district command councils under the new name of “District Political Champions”. Letters to this effect have already been dispatched to various municipalities (Bulletin has seen one of these letters).
“What we fear is that District Hubs repurposed as Command Councils, with ministers and deputy ministers deployed as “district political champions”, is a way of preparing the country for a new centralised constitutional model. If the pilot project works, or even if it doesn’t, the ANC can then point to the inevitability of a formal constitutional amendment,” Brink stated.
In his online statement Brink raised another valid point. “But we also know that the ANC has no shame about using its own failures in government as a pretext for attacking the Constitution. This is after all a constitution that many of the party’s leaders regard as a historical and ideological betrayal. Just like the failure of the government’s land reform programme has been blamed on the property clause in the Constitution, expect the ANC to blame the breakdown of services on the existence of provinces and municipalities. Doing away with the provinces, and turning municipalities into glorified extension of national government, will give corrupt and incompetent ANC cadres the ultimate political reprieve. The party will also no longer have to contest elections that have become more and more unwinnable, especially in the metros and Gauteng.”
In a nutshell, if this proves to be a legitimate document and if the plans are rolled out as stated, the ANC will effectively become “election-proof”. This is concerning and should be cause for alarm. We will keep in touch with Brink on the matter and publish all the latest updates in this paper.