Infighting won’t hamper government policy – ANC

Basic Education Minister Siviwe Gwarube during the swearing-in ceremony of the new executive. l AYANDA NDAMANE/INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Basic Education Minister Siviwe Gwarube during the swearing-in ceremony of the new executive. l AYANDA NDAMANE/INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Published Jul 7, 2024


Durban — South Africans should rest assured that there will be no infighting within the newly formed multiparty Cabinet over government policies as ministers from various parties will have to stick to implementing acts passed by the majority in Parliament.

This is the assurance from the ANC amid the swearing-in of the ministers and their deputies this week.

ANC acting national spokesperson, Zuko Godlimpi, said the Statement of Intent (SOI), which 11 parties signed as part of the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU), was “explicit on the policy issue” that all existing government policies, including foreign and education policies, will be implemented.

“Government policies are a product of Cabinet decisions, not individual party wishes,” said Godlimpi.

He said according to Clause 16 of the SOI, any party that seeks to pass a different policy or repeal an existing one will have to canvass a 60% “sufficient consensus” threshold of seats in Parliament within the GNU.

“All GNU partners will raise their policy proposals and they will be debated in Cabinet equally and with the same degree of intellectual consideration,” said Godlimpi.

The ANC and DA have disagreed on several issues, including the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill, which will now fall under the DA’s communication director, Siviwe Gwarube, who was this week sworn in as the new Basic Education Minister.

The bill intends to made Grade R compulsory, revising admission and language policies, addressing school disruptions, regulating home schooling, and strengthening governance accountability.

Days before the general elections, the DA issued a statement swearing to remain “steadfast in opposing the Bela Bill”.

The DA had alleged that the bill centralised the power of the running of schools to the provincial Basic Education Department heads while diminishing the influence of school governing bodies (SGBs) and local communities in determining language and admissions policies.

“Clause 35 of the bill still imposes excessive regulatory burdens on parents who opt for home schooling, infringing on their autonomy and freedom of choice. Despite a high volume of submissions, many public concerns remain unaddressed in the final report, indicating a lack of meaningful engagement with stakeholders,” said the statement.

The statement further read: “The ANC’s agenda is transparent – they’ll stop at nothing to push through Bills like the BELA and NHI, employing deceptive election tactics that promise a brighter future for South Africans but deliver little.

“The DA remains steadfast in opposing this Bill, committed to fighting it every step of the way, from parliamentary chambers to the President’s office, ensuring that our children’s futures aren’t shackled by outdated legislation.”

However, Godlimpi said any party that would like to repeal certain policies would have to convince all 11 parties in the Cabinet as “this not a bipartisan arrangement between the ANC and DA”.

“All existing government policy stands as is, including foreign policy and education,” said Godlimpi.

DA spokesperson Richard Newton said his party would leave Gwarube to deal with the Bela within the Cabinet.

“The minister will deal with it in consultation with the GNU as it is not for the party (DA) to dictate,” said Newton.

He said it was unimaginable that other disputed policies, which were not under DA ministers, would affect the relationships within the GNU partners.

“I cannot speak on behalf of the ministers in the GNU, but I should imagine they would not have an impact at all,” said Newton.

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), whose president Mzwanele Nyontsho, has been appointed Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has vowed to use the Cabinet position to intensify its campaign for expropriation of land without compensation.

PAC secretary-general, Apa Pooe, said now that his party was holding a Cabinet position, they were in a better position to debate and convince other parties that indigenous South Africans should have access to the land.

“Of course, we will have to work within the collective Cabinet led by the state president (Ramaphosa) and that is what, as the PAC in the Cabinet, we will be advancing for.

“We believed that we can be able to convince all the people who are opposing this that it is only natural that we achieve this because the Struggle in this country was about the return of the land to African people.

“We believe that as the PAC we will ensure that this does happen, because when you are in the Cabinet you debate policy issues,” he said.

Legal analyst Mpumelelo Zikalala said only the Parliament would be the formulator of the policies and ministers would be the implementers.

“A party can have its policy but it should be an act passed by the Parliament for it to be used by the government.

“You cannot implement your policies,” he said.

He said a minister could try to prevent a policy by dragging its implementation.

“But that would make him or her appear as a minister who is not doing their work,” said Zikalala.

Sunday Tribune