A comment by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on the DA’s seizure of the Johannesburg, Tshwane and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities perhaps unwittingly revealed a yawning chasm in the understanding of the trappings of political power by the country’s ruling party.
We would hope Radebe was reacting to a question when he remarked that government would continue to fund municipalities no longer under the control of the ANC, rather than offering a bedraggled olive branch to his party’s opponents in the wake of the biggest black eye the government has suffered at the ballot box in 22 years.
As the minister of justice and constitutional development from 2009 to 2014, Radebe was, at best, being disingenuous. The central government is legally tasked with assisting to provide services and infrastructure to all councils, not just those where it holds the whip hand, and is bound to do so by the constitution.
But so cavalier has the hold on political power the ruling party has wielded since the first democratic elections 22 years ago, that the very concept of contemplating holding back state finances to those it does not agree with is abhorrent, and should never have been countenanced by the minister in the first instance.