By Tarryn Le Chat
In a two-day meeting held in Cape Town, President Thabo Mbeki expressed his concern about the racial challenges in the Western Cape.
Addressing the ANC’s Western Cape provincial committee, Mbeki said, “Building a non-racial society is one of South Africa’s greatest challenges, but nowhere more challenging than in the Western Cape. There was a greater sensitivity to issues of race in the region than anywhere else in the country”.
This statement comes with regard to government’s feeling about the development of a non-racial society and believes what is being done here, and will be done in the province is bigger than provincial importance.
“We have to make progress in this area. The Western Cape is the only province where ‘Africans’ were a minority”, said Mbeki.
According to the Cape Times, there was also an ‘old history’ of coloured labour preference areas in the region.
“When it came to allocating resources in the province, this needed to be done ‘in a way that doesn’t communicate a message that democracy means discrimination against a certain section of the population”, said Mbeki.
Western Cape premier, Ebrahim Rasool, told journalists that race issues ‘remained a contest during elections’ in the province.
“Parties exploit the fears of people, rather than their hopes. We have seen this in every election. They exploit the fears particularly of the coloured people”, said Rasool.
The Democratic Alliance said yesterday that such a debate should take place in parliament.
Former environmental affairs and tourism minister-turned businessman and ANC NEC member, Valli Moosa, recently made a presentation that took a critical look at the effectiveness of provincial departments, questioning the relevance of having departments such as health, education, safety and security and transport at provincial level.
According to the report, the ANC is expected to discuss the revised presentation at its next national executive committee meeting.
A Sunday Newspaper reported that the government, in a confidential document, was considering scenarios about the number and powers of provinces that could include abolishing provincial legislature while retaining current administrations with an elected executive.
The paper quoted the document as saying, “The key objective in changing provincial boundaries, would be to reduce the number of provinces from the current nine to four or five, where the Old Transvaal would be re-established, and the Northern and Western Cape combined”.
Spokesperson for the provincial and local government ministry, Zandi Nkuta, said yesterday that although the authors of the document had been commissioned by the department, it did not reflect the government’s position.
“The authors were not government employees”, says Nkuta.
However, DA leader Tony Leon yesterday said, “We must move very cautiously before we decide to scrap an entire elected system of provincial governments’.