South Africa: Pretoria Government to be Downsized

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Less than two months after taking power in the capital city of Pretoria, the opposition Democratic Alliance has announced that the size of the Pretoria municipal government would be cut, Eyewitness News reports.

Federal Leader Mmusi Maimane is reported as saying:

“The municipality needs that money for the people at home, not for the ANC. If we want to talk about job creation, how do we stimulate micro-enterprise? How do we make sure that infrastructure is in Tshwane so that investment can come in so that people can create work?”

In August we reported on libertarian Herman Mashaba’s ascension to the mayoralty of Johannesburg – Pretoria’s southern neighbor – and also briefly mentioned the new Executive Mayor of Pretoria, Solly Msimanga:

“The new Executive Mayor of Pretoria, Solly Msimanga, also of the Democratic Alliance, has also espoused some libertarian views, calling for the privatization of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises and the strengthening of property rights, rather than state-centric land grabs, as a solution to poverty.”

Earlier this year, prior to being elected, Msimanga had the following to say in an interview, regarding the low levels of ownership of property by South Africans:

“Let us identify land where we can put the bulk infrastructure, develop that land first, and then give the stands away. And then give the people a title deed.”

Regarding industry, Msimanga said:

“There are dormant industrial sites everywhere. Many are partly owned by government. It’s all falling apart. I want to renovate those sites, and declare then special tax zones.”

An opponent of socialist nationalization, Msimanga cautioned South Africa on following the Venezuelan route:

“I caution politicians on selling people dreams they can’t deliver on. I don’t think that nationalisation is the way to go. Look at the country across the way from us. Look at Venezuela. I don’t understand why anybody wants to follow that.”

Msimanga joins many South Africans in his distrust of state-owned enterprises, suggesting an alternative solution. He also opposes the notion of a minimum wage:

“Privatise state-owned enterprises! I don’t see why we can’t do that! Save the money, use it towards service delivery. Some of the things the [Economic Freedom Fighters, a far-left party] say are populist things that aren’t practical. They say I must pay my domestic R4,500 [$328], but I can’t afford that.”

Far-left parties in South Africa have long proposed to forceably expropriate privately-owned land by use of eminent domain from its white owners, in order to ‘redistribute’ its usage, through state ownership, to the black majority. Msimanga had the following to say:

“Let’s not say, ‘Let’s grab this or that, or grab land’. It’s the easiest thing to do. Ask Mugabe [President of Zimbabwe]. It’s not workable. There’s lots of land that’s government owned already. Our model would be to do a proper land audit, identify what the land can be used for, and in terms of redress pay into a dividend fund that helps the local community.”

Many speculated before the August local government elections that the Democratic Alliance, which historically has represented the classical liberal community in South Africa, would form a coalition with the far-left radical socialist Economic Freedom Fighters. Msimanga had the following to say:

“I can tell you what I’m not going to do, and that’s jump into a coalition by compromising our value propositions. We’re not going to damage our name brand. We’re not going to have a bloated system.”

Along with Herman Mashaba, Solly Msimanga is perhaps the most libertarian-inclined executive government member South Africa has ever had. However, with both Mashaba and Msimanga’s governments wholly-dependent on leftist parties voting with them in opposition to the nationally-governing African National Congress, any free market reforms are likely to be watered down to a considerable extent. This is especially true after the Gauteng provincial government of the ANC recently started threatening to place the Pretoria municipality under administration (i.e. the provincial government will govern the locality directly), indicating the ANC’s displeasure at losing the capital city democratically.

This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Martin van Staden, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC

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Martin van Staden is the Editor-in-Chief of BeingLibertarian.com and a final year LL.B law student at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He is a co-founder of the Rational Standard (rationalstandard.com) and the Southern African Academic Programs Director at Students For Liberty (studentsforliberty.org).

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