Covid-19: Dlamini Zuma says controversial district model must be implemented urgently
Cape Town - Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Wednesday told MPs the now controversial district development model needed to be implemented urgently, and that government had profiled all 52 districts and metros to this end.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic had spurred the wider roll-out of the model to correct social inequalities made more glaring still by the health crisis.
"We cannot afford to run away," she said in the parliamentary budget vote on her department's adjusted budget.
Critics of the wholesale application of the model say it will erode the powers of local government through direct intervention by national government in all spheres.
Dlamini Zuma has yet to confirm the authenticity of a leaked document, marked top secret, that advocates using the National Coronavirus Command Council, set up to make decisions on the government's response to the pandemic, as a template for a national council that will direct decision-making in provinces.
But the minister said on Wednesday the model will tackle income, racial and gender inequality through better integration of local government planning, with ministerial involvement.
"This is a fundamental feature of the District Development Model, which we have had to roll-out with urgency since it is a central feature in our response to Covid-19. We need not fear the pandemic, because it also offers us an opportunity to reset our outlook.
"Through our responses we can claw back the possibility of a more equal, sustainable and just society, where leaders are active facilitators in development. To these ends, the president has deployed ministers and deputy ministers as district champions."
The ministers and deputy ministers parachuted into districts will be involved both in planning and implementation, she suggested.
"We have profiled all 52 District and Metro spaces, so that we can facilitate for the participation of our people in a decentralised economic system as envisaged by the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The champions will contribute to vertical and horizontal integration of government planning and implementation."