Experts warn ‘desperate’ ANC against unrealistic promises and questionable spending
Politics lecturer says, “All of this is electioneering and flies in the face of everything government is saying citizens should do."
Photo: Michel Bega
Photo: Michel Bega
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With the 2024 polls expected to pose the toughest challenge to the governing ANC, desperation to win votes at all costs has already led to party leaders making unrealistic promises to voters in unwise decisions bordering on tinkering with state resources, political experts warn.
First to campaign for votes, Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi promised communities free electricity at a public ANC meeting.
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A video of his speech went viral on social media. Lesufi told cheering crowds: “We are happy that national government has agreed that all the people owing Eskom for years, – all those debts have now been scrapped.
“We have championed that and now starting on a new slate. “We are encouraging all municipalities run by the ANC to do the same and scrap the debt of everyone. We are serious about winning this election.”
Critics have called Lesufi’s earlier “job creation programmes” in Gauteng public relations exercises for the ruling party funded by taxpayers.
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In another apparent act of desperation, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi this week defended the planned use of R15 billion from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to create “two million job opportunities before March 2024” – the year of the next general election.
Also this week, the Limpopo government handed over 57 new bakkies to traditional leaders, with the promise of another 45 in the pipeline. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) called it “early Christmas presents”.
Commenting on the campaign for votes, University of Pretoria politics lecturer Roland Henwood and independent political analyst Sandile Swana described Lesufi and Nxesi’s moves as a display of ANC’s desperation to cause a vote swing next year.
Said Henwood: “All of this is electioneering and flies in the face of everything government is saying citizens should do.
“Since when does Mr Lesufi determine what happens to Eskom debt? “Can the Tshwane metro also announce that all Eskom debt is no longer payable?
“This is a recipe for disaster and will contribute to undermining credibility in government and possibly destroy what little legitimacy is left.
“Pronouncements should be left to those who evaluate and come up with decisions.” Henwood described as “unsustainable” a decision by Nxesi to tap into the UIF billions to create job opportunities.
“I do not know if what he is doing is legal. The problem is that government is propping up a failing system. “What is required are reforms and good governance practices that will restore credibility and support economic growth in a sustainable way.
“If you support job creation outside of these requirements, it is possibly equal to buying votes.” Swana said Lesufi’s comments could not be taken seriously before there was a written statement on the cancellation of municipal Eskom debt issued by National Treasury.
“The balance sheet of Eskom is being rehabilitated by National Treasury and if we have not seen such a statement, Lesufi’s sentiments are plunging Eskom and Treasury into further problems.
“This appears not to have been discussed, approved or provided for by National Treasury.” He said Lesufi was “aware that the ANC is going to lose Gauteng”.
“And, unfortunately, rather than promoting vision and superior performance, he is, in essence, using state resources to buy votes. “He is going all over the show to buy votes.
“The ANC is in a very difficult electoral position, with there being electioneering at the highest degree. “Electioneering in the ANC has been associated with unwise and unauthorised and irregular expenditure of state resources,” said Swana.
Turning to Nxesi, Swana said “The R15 billion UIF transaction idea – from an economic perspective – needs further scrutiny.
“It may sound like an interesting idea because he is a minister of jobs, but jobs are created by business.
“You need a process of creating businesses and all of that has not been fully disclosed in terms of viability, sustainability – whether businesses are going to be able to create jobs.
“Unfortunately, three ministers have been implicated by Mthunzi Mdwaba in the R500 billion UIF scandal. “This whole thing was tainted by corruption.
“Until we resolve the matter of corruption, then we need to hear how ministers of economic development and Treasury assess whether this is a robust economic development scheme that can create proper businesses to employ South Africans in a credible way.
“For now, all these things are premature.”
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