MESSAGE FROM THE LEADER, BOBBY STEVENSON

Accountability means understanding difference between party and state

DA Leader in the Legislature, Bobby Stevenson (right) at a Freedom Day-event in Port Elizabeth.

DA Leader in the Legislature, Bobby Stevenson (right) at a Freedom Day-event in Port Elizabeth.

The issue of accountability has been brought sharply into focus in regard to the gathering of 1 050 ANC-councillors in the East London Convention Centre on Monday, 29 April 2013.  It has been reported that hotels were packed from Saturday, 27 April, onwards.  It has been estimated that up to R4 million was spent on councillor accommodation, food, transport and subsistence allowances.  As DA councillors were excluded, this amounted to an ANC meeting funded at government expense.

The ANC does not see anything untoward in spending taxpayers’ money on a gathering such as this.  They have completely confused party and state. They also believe that the party reigns supreme over the legislature and councils, whereas the DA believes these institutions as autonomous bodies.

Their understanding of the lack of differentiation between party and state also manifests itself in the form of cadre deployment.  Loyalty and service to the party trumps the ability to do the job.  This is having a catastrophic impact on service delivery in the province.

Until there is a clear understanding between the role of government and the role of a political party and these lines are not blurred, real accountability will remain but a pipe dream.

The Democratic Alliance will hold the ANC accountable in every municipality in this province for this irregular expenditure.  We will also demand answers from the MEC for Local Government in the forthcoming sitting of the Legislature in early June.  We will vigorously pursue this matter, not only to ensure clean government but to safeguard this important principle of our Constitutional democracy.

The supremacy of the Constitution and not the supremacy of the party is the only way forward to realise real freedom in our developing democracy.