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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

ANC has ‘little to brag about’ ahead of elections – analyst

Debate rages over showcasing service delivery progress as electioneering, with analysts criticizing both ANC and DA.

The ANC government had little to show during its tenure in office, said one political analyst of the debate whether showcasing service delivery progress in the run-up to the country’s polls constituted electioneering.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen threatened to report President Cyril Ramaphosa to the public protector “for using taxpayers’ resources to boost the ANC election campaign” – referring to Ramaphosa’s promise to offer people about 500 000 skills training and job opportunities.

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Slamming the DA stance, the ANC said there was “nothing wrong in the work of government proceeding uninterrupted during an election year”.

“I have never seen in any democracy that an incumbent government cannot speak about successes or its plans,” said party spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri.

Economic decline

But political analyst Daniel Silke said statistics pointed to “an economic decline across the board in South Africa”, with government having “a very limited-service delivery to highlight”.

“The unfortunate part is that the broad maintenance upkeep and effective administration have effectively broken down.

“Government can talk about infrastructure, but if not maintained, it falls apart, is subject to corruption or cronyism, and does not really mean much,” said Silke.

He said there would always be “smoke and mirrors – a lot of disguising service delivery, obfuscation, trying to show government progress”.

“Government’s message is no longer credible because of failures experienced daily – a train service that barely runs and roads not maintained.”

While maintaining the ANC and the DA were “equally responsible for using achievements to market themselves”, independent political expert Sandile Swana slammed service delivery-based electioneering.

“The DA will tell the electorate about what it has done in the Western Cape or in Cape Town – hoping to attract votes.

“Parties that hold power use achievements, hoping to be given another chance,” said Swana.

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“To its disadvantage, the ANC has neutralised the department of planning, monitoring and evaluation, which should provide an independent assessment of all ministers, departments and municipalities, so that we can have an independent record of performance.

He called for an end to “the cutting of ribbons” by the executive at taxpayers’ expense. “Service delivery display is unfair to the citizens,” said Swana.

“When you do ribbon-cutting or showcasing, who pays for that?

“Is the showcasing necessary? A road or a dam can be built and used, without any political event around it.

“When Ramaphosa opens a bridge or road, is that within the scope of a president?

“A lot of state money is used to transport dignitaries, which should not be done.”

‘Political accountability is crucial’

Policy analyst Dr Nkosikhulule Nyembezi said the election manifesto debate was about “spreading knowledge on election promises and influencing public opinion”.

“Accountability is crucial in these elections, as it is the obligation of elected political leaders to answer for their policy choices and political decisions.

“A sound justification is required, so that parties can be compensated with votes or punished with rejection on election day,” said Nyembezi.

“Showcasing service delivery, is part of answering policy choices and political decisions by candidates.

“But the emphasis can be misleading in that it is not a political party, but the government that delivers services using taxes.

“Emphasis can also be misleading, as politicians tend to showcase pet projects that attract voter attention.

“These have little value in improving the quality of life for the people,” said Nyembezi.