POLITICAL NEWS - Former president Thabo Mbeki has slammed as “reactionary” suggestions by some parties, as well as from within the ANC, that national, provincial and local government elections be held on the same date.
Such a “synchronised” election would disregard the importance of the local government sphere, as provided for in the Constitution, and would undermine South Africa’s constitutional democracy as a whole, Mbeki said in his May newsletter published by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.
He wrote: “This would finally collapse the excellent and special vision for local government which the ANC had, and which in large measure the [constitutional assembly elected in 1994] had accepted.”
The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) said after its meeting in June 2020 that it supported an initiative by the party’s officials and the national working committee “to engage in the development of proposals on a synchronised national, provincial and local government elections to enable better coordination and implementation of policies across spheres of government”.
‘The people shall govern’
Mbeki said the intention of the ANC leaders and members who worked on drawing up the Constitution – which he insisted was not an “elite document” as detractors claimed – was to give local government “a particular place within our system of government”.
He said it was in this sphere of government that the ANC saw the fullest expression of the Freedom Charter’s objective that “The People Shall Govern”.
Mbeki said in his newsletter that the ANC tried to involve as many of its members and supporters in the process of drawing up the Constitution.
“It therefore took the deliberate decision that the constitution-making should not be confined to its leadership, its elite, but would involve the millions immediately grouped within and around the movement,” he wrote.
‘Framework of rules’
He said the “naysayers”, those like the Economic Freedom Fighters and some from within the ANC who have been pushing to overturn some constitutional provisions, have been supporting the “synchronisation” of the elections, but added: “It is a reactionary proposal!”
He wrote: “The argument that a constitutional democracy is a threat to democracy itself and a subversion of the will of the people makes no sense and is not supported by any evidence, both in our country and elsewhere in the world.”
This argument, he said, “is not advanced because of a love for democracy and respect for the will of the people”, but rather is “part of a counter-revolutionary offensive which aims first to overthrow the ANC as a governing party” and to install another power in its place that would “proceed to manage our country as it wishes, without the ‘framework of rules’ provided by our Constitution”.
Mbeki continued by saying some of the “naysayers” wanted to form a task team to run the ANC and replace the current NEC, rebuild the ANC security structures, reschedule the local government elections, and expel all “foreign nationals” within 90 days.
This appears to be a reference to a group opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership calling themselves the ANC Cadres Forum convened by retired military intelligence chief, Mojo Motau.
The group was criticised by the military for inviting members of the South African National Defence Force to its meetings.
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