The Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill has been met by fierce criticism from the African National Congress (ANC), with the ruling party labelling the proposed legislation as a “backward step for South Africa”.

The Democratic Alliance (DA)-backed bill, which was introduced in May 2023, aims to devolve certain functions from the national government to provincial and local level.

The legislation articulates the Western Cape government’s desire to affirm its existing provincial and local powers as well as seeking the delegation or assignment of additional powers in areas including policing, public transport, energy, trade, and harbours.

‘Ideologies of right-wing factions’

According to the provincial government, the draft law will enable province to “remedy the failures to which the national government is either unwilling or unable to act” in the best interest of residents.

However, the ANC has opposed the bill as it was unconstitutional.

“It is alarming to see that the Western Cape has embraced the ideologies of right-wing factions and has positioned itself as a supporter of the old apartheid regime, which never advocated a unified state or a constitutional state as outlined in the Freedom Charter,” the ruling party said in a statement on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: ‘SA will remain one country’ until DA ‘gets it’ – Cabinet reacts to Western Cape powers bill push

The ANC, in its view, believed that the proposed legislation was “nothing more than a ploy to revive and reintroduce the discriminatory policies of apartheid”.

Last November, the ad-hoc committee on Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill voted to move forward with a public participation process before the legislation was tabled.

The matter had been put to a vote where the decision of the majority party, which is the DA, after committee members failed to reach consensus.

This is despite two legal opinions obtained by the provincial legislature raising questions about the bill’s constitutionality. 

‘Ilegitimate and invalid’

Meanwhile, the ANC has highlighted that legal experts have raised concerns about the bill.

“According to legal advice received, the bill is in direct violation of the Constitution, as the Western Cape provincial legislature lacks the legislative authority or constitutional mandate to develop, propose, and enact such a bill.

READ MORE: Right of reply: Proposed Bill will deliver devolution not Cape independence

“The bill lacks any constitutional basis to justify its legislative authority, rendering it illegitimate and invalid.

“Based on these two points alone, it is evident that the conduct of the Western Cape government, and by extension, the Democratic Alliance, not only contradicts the Constitution but also undermines its principles,” the party said.

Read the bill below:

127-2023-2023-05-23-WC-Powers-Bill-E by Molefe Seeletsa on Scribd

The governing party said it was concerning that the Western Cape government has chosen to persist with “its unconstitutional agenda by conducting public hearings”.

“It can only be concluded that this is a desperate attempt to appease its true supporters, who are against the Constitution, and is driven by a desire to preserve the remnants of apartheid-era South Africa.”

The ANC further called on the public to reject the proposed legislation.

Stakeholders, interested persons and organisations have been invited to make submissions on the bill and to attend the public hearings until 29 January.


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