ANC's broken promises

ANC's broken promises

2009-01-29 00:00

THE African National Congress's 2009 election manifesto contains many fine words and laudable aims. The true test is whether or not they will be implemented. That seems unlikely, because after 15 years in Government the ANC has left a trail of broken promises. In 2004, the ANC's slogan was "A people's contract to create work and fight poverty". Yet there are still more than 4,1m unemployed people in South Africa and two out of every five South Africans still live below the poverty line.

The ANC said it would build more houses and eradicate informal settlements, but the housing backlog stands at 2,1m. The ANC promised to put more policemen on the streets and to ensure they were better resourced and managed. But instead of employing more police officers to protect our citizens, it employed more people to sit in offices.

The ANC undertook to improve SA's education system by building more classrooms and employing more teachers. Yet almost 1,5m children don't have a classroom to be taught in and the teacher:pupil ratio increases every year.

The ANC said it would improve the public health service. Yet our public hospitals are falling apart. Queues are getting longer. Hospital conditions are getting worse: 42 000 babies die unnecessarily in SA every year.

The ANC fails to deliver on its promises because it doesn't see Government as a site of delivery. It sees the State as an employment bureau for party loyalists, families and friends and a means of dispensing patronage through tenders and contracts. That inevitably results in the "shell State" or "vampire State" where leaders hide behind populist rhetoric to advance their own interests and those of their closed circle of cronies.

Such societies have all the superficial trappings of power (such as blue-light convoys) but none of the substance of democratic governance. The clearest example of the outcome of the closed, crony system is Zimbabwe - despite the fine-sounding rhetoric in ZANU (PF's) election manifesto.

The Democratic Alliance has a different vision for SA. It's of an open opportunity society where every person is given a fair chance to make a success of his or her life. In such a society Government is entrusted to create ever-expanding opportunities for all, not ever-diminishing opportunities reserved for the well-connected few.

That's the philosophy we're putting into practice where we govern. In our 2006 local government manifesto for Cape Town we promised an economically growing city. And that's what we've delivered. Cape Town's gross geographic product (GGP) increased by more than 12% from R116,6bn in 2005 - when the ANC governed - to R130,77bn in 2007, under DA rule. Unemployment declined from 20,7% in 2005 to 17,9% in 2007.

We promised an efficient city. And that's what we've delivered.

Within a year of taking over the city we cut debt by nearly R1bn. That allowed us to extend the capital available for services delivery to the poor by 15%. We tripled the investment in infrastructure that supports the economy and benefits the public (especially the poor) from an average R1bn/year between 2002 and 2006 to R3,1bn in 2008.

We promised a safe city. And that's what we're delivering.

Crime in the CBD has gone down by 90% over the past five years. Capetonians now feel safer: 8 000 residents have moved back into inner city apartments.

We promised a sustainable city, with more houses and fair housing allocation procedures. And that's what we're delivering.

We've integrated seven housing lists into a single list, which has allowed us to verify the validity of all claims. And we're creating more housing opportunities. We doubled the average annual rate of housing delivery, from the ANC's average of 3 000/year between 2002 and 2006 to an average 7 000/year between 2006 and 2008.

We also promised a clean city: clean and transparent in government, clean and beautiful in appearance. And that's what we're delivering.

Under the ANC a minimum 30% black empowerment quota applied to tenders, which was used to advance the economic interests of the ANC's friends and cronies. In 2006 the DA scrapped that policy and implemented an open equity programme that encourages greater numbers of bidders to apply. The result has been a 10% increase in the number of contracts awarded to empowerment companies.

Cape Town is clean, both figuratively and literally: in 2007, Cape Town was awarded the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism's annual "Cleanest Metro" award.

The DA is fulfilling its election promises made to voters in Cape Town in our 2006 manifesto. And we're keeping to our word in all the other municipalities that we govern countrywide.

Our national manifesto, which we will launch next month, is based on our package of carefully costed and mutually re-inforcing policies that give practical expression to our vision of the open opportunity society for all.

Our track record in government shows we can - and will - put our manifesto and our vision of the open opportunity society for all into action.