The Free Market Foundation has slammed the ANC’s plan to reduce the number of provinces in South Africa from nine to six, saying that it could be seen as a direct attack on the country’s constitutional democracy.
Following the ANC’s policy conference in July 2017, the ruling party said it was moving ahead with a plan to reconfigure the provinces in South Africa, in line with a decision taken in 2007 that there should be six provinces in the country.
At the time, the ANC said that reducing the number of provinces would address concerns around the concentration of resources, and aid with service delivery across the country.
For government to actually decrease the number of provinces, it would need to go about a process to amend the Constitution.
Section 74(3)(ii) provides that two-thirds of the National Assembly and six provinces in the National Council of Provinces must approve alterations to “provincial boundaries, powers, functions or institutions”; and section 74(8) provides that the provincial legislatures in question will need to approve such alterations.
The Free Market Foundation said that even if the ANC were to accomplish that incredibly difficult task, the constitutionality of the move could still be challenged on the basis that it would create uncertainty and disrupt the rule of law in the country.
“With the electoral – indeed, political – uncertainty currently facing South Africa, it would be reckless to fiddle with the configuration of provinces or municipalities at this stage in our history,” it said.
“This conduct invites uncertainty and unpredictability and is thus arguably a violation of the Rule of Law and thus the Constitution.”
It has been implied in the past that the plan to scrap provinces was part of a political conspiracy to consolidate power for the ANC – particularly in the Western Cape, which is dominated by the DA – however this has been countered by arguments that many in the ANC itself do not want to see it happen.
The FMF, too, said it would be unfair to claim that it was the ANC’s attempt to ensure they win the 2019 elections by shifting boundaries (as the proposal has been around since 2007 – before the Western Cape was fully DA territory), but it did say that the move was similar to how the apartheid government passed legislation increasing the size of each province’s Senate representation to amend Acts and further disenfranchise non-white populations.
The think tank said that if the ANC was truly concerned about the “concentration of resources” at a provincial level, as it claimed, it would be more appropriate to ensure that resources go where they’re meant to go.
“The real burdensome ‘middleman’ in this relationship is not the provinces, but the national government,” it said.
By: Business Tech