WANTS EXPANDED POWERS: Embattled South Africa president Jacob Zuma

Big Brother is on the way: the ANC plans to expand the powers of the president’s office, which will see the country’s Number 1 becoming even more powerful at all levels of government, but especially in provincial affairs.

In the past, President Jacob Zuma was criticised for centralising the control of all state-owned enterprises to his office. The opposition parties regarded this as another attempt to bring corrupt “state capture” elements into state entities.

There have also been tussles between the ANC-led national government and the DA-run Western Cape on jurisdiction in particular areas. A new ANC discussion paper envisages the establishment of a presidential commission on provinces to review the powers and functions of all three spheres of government. But it will zoom in on provincial roles and responsibilities.

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The discussion document emanates from the ANC’s national subcommittee on the legislature and governance policy and was released in Johannesburg by subcommittee chairperson and Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.

The document is part of preparations for the party’s national policy conference, to be held in June at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg. The policy conference would precede the ANC’s much-anticipated national elective conference in December.

Dlodlo said: “Given the scale and complexity of government’s delivery across three spheres of government and the state-owned enterprises, the strategic centre of power in the presidency must be strengthened to drive the implementation of the National Development Plan, and align planning and policy, resource allocation and enforcement.”

“The aim here is to improve the alignment and integration of policies and development across spheres and sectors of government.”

The process would entail modernising the public service. The capacity of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) would be enhanced so that it is an active centre of provinces and municipalities.

The NCOP is equivalent to the former apartheid-era senate, and it has representatives directly from the provinces, while the municipalities are represented in the body by the South African Local Government Association.