Democratic Alliance (DA) insiders fear that the African National Congress (ANC) is muscling in on the Western Cape, using the province’s COVID-19 crisis.
The Western Cape is South Africa’s coronavirus epicenter, with over 30,000 of the country’s 45,973 known cases and accounts for 77% of the fatalities. It is also the only province out of the nine not governed by the ANC, the South African Sunday Times reported.
In response to the Western Cape’s towering numbers, national government has sent top officials to the province, including President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who visited Friday.
More ministers will be sent to the province, according to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who said there was nothing political about the move.
Premier Alan Winde has also cautioned against politicizing government’s response to the pandemic in the province. However, according to the Sunday Times, insiders in the DA have likened the step made by national government to an effort to micromanage Western Cape officials.
An unnamed official quoted by the publication expressed concern at the lack of consultation with the office of the premier. The publication says the ministers set to descend on the province in the coming days include controversial figures such as Police Minister Bheki Cele and his transport counterpart, Fikile Mbalula.
Also said to be on their way to the Western Cape are Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as well as Barbara Creecy at Environmental Affairs and Ebrahim Patel at Trade and Industry.
Winde confirmed Saturday that national government had indeed deployed cabinet ministers to the province, but also stated that he and Ramaphosa had not discussed details.
“We didn’t actually talk about that [the mandate of the ministers], so I am not too sure,” Winde said. “Obviously, I would hope that kind of consultation happens before it actually gets deployed. And who gets deployed where and for what reason.”
As of June 6, the Western Cape had recorded 30,379 coronavirus cases, which accounted for 66% of the country’s total, and 729 deaths out of South Africa’s toll of 952.