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Cabinet Asserts Authority over Controversial Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Cabinet has intervened in the matter concerning the draft Western Cape Provincial Powers Bill, seen as a challenge to national government supremacy, by appointing two of its ministers to negotiate with the Western Cape government. The discussion will centre around a bill believed to threaten the unity and constitutionality of the government system.

At the post-Cabinet briefing, Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, informed the media that the Cabinet had labeled the draft bill as potentially unconstitutional. The Ministers of Justice and of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) have been tasked with discussing the issue with the Western Cape administration, as set out in section 146 of the Constitution, which provides resolution mechanisms in case of disputes.

The challenge to the draft arises from its alleged violation of Schedules 4 and 5 of the Constitution, which outlines the powers and roles of both national and provincial executives. Ntshavheni denounces the draft bill as a move to revert to a federal approach preferred by the DA, the predecessor to the Democratic Party, which poses a risk to South Africa's unity.

The bill, which has backing from DA federal chairperson Helen Zille, seeks to promote federal autonomy at provincial and municipal levels, particularly those capable of handling devolved functions coming from central government. Endorsed by the DA federal council in June, it proposes to establish a 10-member Provincial Powers Committee that would report to the legislature on the bolstering and discharge of provincial powers in the Western Cape.

Interestingly, the bill, which also has the Freedom Front Plus and ACDP's support, suggests that the national government has been unable to cater to the demands of the Western Cape community, thereby justifying their need for self-governance. Ntshavheni, however, noted that the bill makes no provision for the large black communities dwelling in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Langa, the Cape Flats, Delft and Central Line.

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