The ANC has proposed that the presidency be strengthened to become a “strategic centre of power” in government, driving resource allocation within the state.

This is one of the key proposals in the governing party’s policy document on legislature and governance released on Sunday.

The document states that the core functions of state policy and planning, resource allocation and prioritisation, co-operative governance, public administration and performance enforcement, should form part of core functions of the presidency.

The documents will be discussed by ANC structures ahead of its policy conference and final policy which will only be adopted at its elective conference in December.

“The presidency must be strengthened as the strategic centre of power in the state and must drive the National Development Plan, planning and policy, resource allocation and enforcement,” ANC head of policy and minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe said.

Analysts say the proposal is an attempt to clip the wings of Treasury, that has until now held the power for finance allocation.

Radebe said that as part of budget reform, the presidency would lead in determining what are the main priorities of government, in line with the National Development Plan, followed by Treasury allocating finances according to the determined list of priorities.

Economist Chris Malekane said that while the battle was previously about power of the party versus the state, ahead of the 2007 elective conference when then-president Thabo Mbeki was at the helm, the new proposal reflects the current ongoing struggle within government that has pitted President Jacob Zuma against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The recent battle between Zuma and Gordhan has been over a nuclear deal, which it is estimated may cost the country a trillion rand. Recently, several cabinet and ANC members have called for the powers of Treasury to be reviewed, expressing frustration with its budget allocations.

The ANC Youth League called for Gordhan to be fired, accusing him of protecting the interests of white monopoly capital.

“Within government clearly there is a power struggle between the presidency and the national Treasury… and it is actually clear that the effective power in the state has been national Treasury – the ANC is just waking up to that reality now,” Malekane said.

Radebe, who is also the chair of the National Planning Commission, said the proposal on resource allocation by the presidency followed advice from the commission that if budget allocation did not reflect the priorities of the National Development Plan (NDP), it would fail.

“National Planning Commission advised to government that, if we talk about the NDP without the requisite budget to promote the NDP, the talk about the NDP will remain a plain glorious illusion,” Radebe said.

He said in 2015, the Cabinet lekgotla decided on the two-part budget process.
He said the presidency will lead in reviewing all programmes of government and those not fitting with the NDP vision should be shut down.

In the documents, the ANC also proposes a department for state policy and planning. “A dedicated and focused department for state policy and planning needs to be considered in order to locate all planning functions, expertise and resources in order to address inequity and poverty through agency of all organs of state,” the document states.

  Currently planning, monitoring and evaluation is led by Radebe and falls within the presidency. – News24