Cabinet changes should be about strengthening state capacity, says SACP's Solly Mapaila
Changing political faces in government will not necessarily improve the lives of ordinary citizens or accelerate delivery of services, according to SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila.
Mapaila says while the party welcomed the changes in President Cyril Ramaphosa's cabinet announced earlier this month, on their own they will not make a difference unless the people brought in changed the capacity of the state.
He specifically mentioned the appointment of a new finance minister, saying such changes should be made not to please capital but to respond to the challenges of the masses and to bring government closer to the people.
“We welcome the changes in government but we want to say these changes should not be for itself, these changes should be to strengthen the capacity of the state, respond to the challenges facing the masses,” said Mapaila.
“As we accept these changes, we want to say to government [they must] intensify the pace of implementation of our agreed programmes and don't bring in programmes not agreed to as fundamental programmes of government,” he said.
This, Mapaila said, has been one of the major problems the SACP has been facing.
Mapaila was delivering an online political lecture on the 100th anniversary of the SACP.
He decried the manner in which government “simply abandoned” policies that they collectively agreed to for new policies that are not agreed to by collectives but agreed to by bureaucrats.
Mapaila said he was worried about the bureaucracy in this country and how it was thinking “completely inside the box” regarding changing policies and confusing political leadership.
“In many instances we are just mark-timing on the same spot with the same bureaucrats,” he said.
He gave an example of when he attended an ANC national executive lekgotla 10 years ago, “where comrades said they are going to eliminate the bucket system in the Free State”.
We welcome the changes in government but we want to say these changes should not be for itself, these changes should be to strengthen the capacity of the state, respond to the challenges facing the masses.
“To date there is no elimination of the bucket system,” he said.
He suggested that going forward, government must address the crises of poverty and unemployment with the same speed it responded to Covid-19 after Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster in March last year.
“We have seen now with Covid-19 how resources were able to be released and procurement was made faster.
“We want to say every revolution which has people living under the bridge, who sleep without food, who have no jobs, who have no sustainable livelihoods for their families and die of sickness and of basic diseases that can be treated, every revolution that finds itself in that way must always operate as if it is in a state of disaster.”
This does not mean there will be no accountability measures, it merely means the state will respond to the problems of the people faster.
“We need a change of pace of how government does things, also in provinces and in municipalities, on implementing programmes that respond to the needs of the people,” he said.
The SACP will also need to be tough on the ANC government, he proposed, saying it can't have 100 years of “heroic” contributions to the struggle to just come and betray it.
“We have to be quite hard sometimes as we engage our allies, sometimes they are taking us for granted,” he said.
He warned without elaborating that they were in a precarious period as a party within the alliance where the revolution was in danger of being captured by new forces, and being reversed drastically because of internal weakness within the ANC.
“It is not because we don't put proposals on the table, there are many proposals that we have put on the table. They don't listen to them,” he said.