South Africa’s power brawl: ANC says Western Cape Powers Bill seeks to ‘revive’ and ‘reintroduce’ apartheid

The African National Congress (ANC) urges South Africans to call out the “unconstitutional” actions of the Western Cape government. Picture: Cindy Waxa

The African National Congress (ANC) urges South Africans to call out the “unconstitutional” actions of the Western Cape government. Picture: Cindy Waxa

Published Jan 18, 2024


The power struggle continues as the African National Congress (ANC) urges South Africans to call out the “unconstitutional” actions of the Western Cape government.

“We urge the people of the Western Cape to rise and reject the Western Cape Powers Bill and align itself with the principles of our Constitution, for the betterment of all its citizens,” said the ANC.

The Democratic Alliance-led government (DA) in the province wants to introduce the Provincial Powers Bill, the country’s system of governance.

The Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill, a breeding ground for debate, fully backed by Premier Alan Winde and the DA, seeks to introduce federalism across the province.

This bill proposes to devolve specific national governmental powers to provincial and local authorities that are considered adequate to manage them.

This includes public transport, policing, trade (including international trade and harbours), electricity generation and transmission powers, and water provision being transferred to the provincial government.

Responding to apartheid allegations, the DA’s Richard Newton told IOL that his party never has and never will revive or reintroduce apartheid.

"This is nothing more than an attempt by the ANC to deflect from its own horrific track record," he said.

He said the DA and its predecessor parties fought apartheid as the very core value of its mandate. Newton said the ANC was just afraid that the DA governed better.

"The ANC knows very well that where the DA governs, it governs well and this poor attempt at fear-mongering shows the desperation of the ANC," he said.

According to the DA, the bill would ensure that services were delivered to people in the province. This would free the province from constant power cuts and water outages, which have mired the country in recent years.

The ANC said it would be a step backwards for South Africa.

The national governing party said it was alarming to witness the Western Cape embracing and supporting the old apartheid regime, which “never advocated for a unified state or a constitutional state as outlined in the Freedom Charter”.

“The Western Cape Powers Bill is nothing more than a ploy to revive and reintroduce the discriminatory policies of apartheid, which segregated South Africa along racial and tribal lines by creating Bantustans,” it said in a statement.

Some legal experts have unequivocally stated that the bill proposed by the provincial government went against the Constitution.

According to legal advice the ANC received:

– The bill is in direct violation of the Constitution, as the Western Cape Provincial Legislature lacks the legislative authority or constitutional mandate to develop, propose, and enact such a bill.

– The bill lacks any constitutional basis to justify its legislative authority, rendering it illegitimate and invalid.

It further stated that it was evident that the conduct by the DA-led government not only contradicts the Constitution, but also undermines its principles.

It condemned the Western Cape government for continuing with its unconstitutional agenda by conducting public hearings.

“It can only be concluded that this is a desperate attempt to appease its true supporters, who are against the constitution, and is driven by a desire to preserve the remnants of apartheid-era South Africa,” it said.

Meanwhile, opposition parties were also advocating for a standstill in the hearings on the bill.

Last weekend, former president Jacob Zuma, suggested that the country reduce its provinces to just four, to prevent the Western Cape from becoming independent.

Addressing members of the MK Party, Zuma alleged that the white people wanted to mark the Western Cape as their territory by using the DA as their tool.

Furthermore, the ANC vowed to fight for a unified and constitutional South Africa.

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