Ramaphosa’s evasive answer about power grab plan raises more suspicion

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received a formal response from President Cyril Ramaphosa to our parliamentary question about the origin and status of a leaked top secret government document that makes disturbing constitutional proposals.

The DA revealed the document last month, and to date nobody in the ANC or government has denied its authenticity or disavowed its content. We gave the President the chance to clarify the matter, but his response only raises further suspicions.

The document, leaked to the DA by a government official, proposes the establishment of permanent command councils with executive powers. It appears on the letterhead of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and is marked “top secret”.

The unknown author describes the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic as “exemplary” and suggests that all this creates a chance for centralising power in the hands of the national government.

This is proposed under the guise of the District Development Model – a local government policy initiative that predates Covid, but has so little substance that you could fit almost anything else under its ambit.

If the top secret document isn’t an elaborate hoax – if discussions inside the Ramaphosa administration are in fact animated by plans of a new command and control system of government – then South African people deserve advance notice.

But in his response President Ramaphosa avoids reference to the top secret document all together (copy attached). He fails to say whether he has seen the document, whether it comes from a government source, or whether he agrees with its substantive proposals.

The President could have used the opportunity to say in clear and simple terms that the document doesn’t represent the plans or the policy of his government. His evasiveness suggests the opposite.

The DA does not believe that the President’s reply meets the standards set by the Rules of the National Assembly – which require the Executive to account to Parliament. We will be writing to the Speaker to request her to order the President to render a substantive reply.

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