The Premier’s Economic Advisory Council in the African National Congress-led government of the Free State Province, 1999 - 2004: a historical exploration on service delivery and poverty alleviation.24 August 2012
The article traces the impact and relevance of the service delivery and poverty alleviation strategies introduced by the African National Congress (ANC) led provincial government in the Free State Province. This was in line with the promises made by the ANC during its electioneering campaigns of a “better life for all”. South Africa was confronted with the challenge of transforming a racially and ethnically fragmented and unequal public service delivery system into one that would be able to meet the demands from a newly enfranchised citizenry for economic, social and political development. The legacies of apartheid, combined with widespread poor budgetary and financial management, a massive backlog in basic services and infrastructure, race and regional inequalities in provision, and sometimes tense social relationships, tended to limit opportunities for social development and expanded delivery. South Africa’s new Constitution guaranteed human rights and democratic governance, promised efficient delivery of services and implemented a number of reforms aimed at achieving equity, access and the redistribution of resources. I argue in this article that the appointment of Winkie Direko, as the Premier of the Free State for the period 1999 to 2004 heralded a new dispensation for service delivery and poverty alleviation projects in the province. Therefore,the article seeks to highlight some of her initiatives as the province’s Premier in fast-tracking service delivery and poverty alleviation programmes. In order to achieve the above, Direko introduced a structure which became known as the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council (PEAC). This article reflects the role played by the PEAC in advising Direko as Premier on the economic development of the Free State Province. It presents the reflections, analysis, and recommendations of the research projects undertaken under the auspices of the PEAC. Furthermore, it highlights the use of the PEAC as one approach to enhance stakeholders’ contribution to the economic development of the province, albeit within the limitations of time and funding from the Free State provincial government. Direko’s PEAC ceased to function after the change of the provincial political leadership in April 2004 general election. Therefore, the article discusses the period 1999 to 2004.