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DA raises alarm on national govt’s proposal for more power over municipalities

DA MP Cilliers Brink released a government document on a letterhead of the Co-Operative Governance Ministry that proposes to make the Command Council system a model for government beyond the lockdown.

FILE: Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaking at a media briefing on Sunday 25 April 2020. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has characterised as a coup d’etat a document proposing major governance changes at municipal level.

DA MP Cilliers Brink released a government document on a letterhead of the Co-Operative Governance Ministry that proposes to make the command council system a model for government beyond the lockdown.

It also describes the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for the “macro re-organisation of the state".

Brinks said the DA is concerned by the constitutional implications of what is being proposed.

He said the 45-page document discussed the financial ruin in municipalities, blaming their state on South Africa’s credit downgrade and the lockdown, something he said was untrue.

“The document proposes the command council system of government imposed on us by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma be made permanent even after the lockdown, describing government’s response to the pandemic as exemplary. In essence the document says that more control by government is the only way to save dysfunctional communities.”

The document also proposes using the district development model and the command council system as a means of centralised government policy-making.

Brink said if the plan was to govern South Africa by way of command councils, then it would be fine to simply let the municipalities collapse entirely.

Cogta ministry spokesperson Mlungisi Mtshali said he would need to study the report before making any comment.

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