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Cape Town - The DA and the ANC in the Western Cape are at each other’s throats again – this time over who champions the plight of the poor.
At a press conference on Monday, the ANC claimed that the DA had “declared war on the poor”, while premier Helen Zille, in a statement issued last week, slammed the ANC for not caring about the poor.
Zille said her government spent 80 percent of its budget on the poor. She said R32 billion was pumped into the health, education, human settlements and social development departments.
ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said on Monday: “The ANC is not convinced that the DA has put in place any own policy to assist the poor or brought any own initiative in aid of the many suffering from dire poverty and deprivation.
“This government has not prioritised jobs… there are no new developments… they are all being blocked by the DA’s special interests. It is a lie that they have empowered more black business than before.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition in the Western Cape legislature, Lynne Brown of the ANC, said that “in the three years of DA rule, we have seen the support to poor communities being cut”.
She said the Real Enterprise Development [Red] Door initiative, which supported small and medium enterprises, had been closed. NGOs such as the Saartjie Baartman Centre and Rape Crisis were struggling and also faced closure, she said.
Brown also said that the economic development department had closed community advice offices.
“Are there real or new developments in the poor communities? No, nothing takes place on the Cape Flats, [in] townships or even rural areas.”
Brown said the DA had a problem of cadre deployment because “DA MPs and spouses of public representatives have been given jobs in the province and city”.
“In which positions are these well-heeled cadres deployed? [The] ANC’s suspicion is that they are not in service-delivery positions, but rather communication smoke-and-mirror spinning,” she said.
Zille accused the ANC of creating a narrative that the DA did not deliver to the poor.
“Rival factions in the ANC are trying to ‘outbid’ each other in posing as the ‘authentic’ voices of the poor,” she said. “As its contribution to the advancement of the poor, the ANC Youth League is trying to make various provinces ‘ungovernable’, which involves destroying as many public facilities as they can… it would be ironic if it were not so tragic.
“The ANC’s warring factions are far more concerned about who wins at Mangaung and who will, therefore, dispense patronage, tenders and contracts, than about serving the interests of the poor.”
Zille added that the focus of the DA’s provincial plan and budget was primarily on expanding opportunities to impoverished citizens and establishing the conditions for economic growth and job creation.