BOKAMOSO | One year on, and the DA is making real progress in our cities

The following is a report-back on progress being made in the DA-run metros, one year after the local government elections on 3 August 2016.

One year ago this week, South Africans went to the polls in the most historic and game-changing election since 1994. Our democracy witnessed a significant shift in power, as a DA-led coalition took over three new metros: Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. This meant the DA took control of more than 50% of the country’s local government budget, governing for over 16 million South Africans.

This broad governing coalition is a critical step towards a post-ANC South Africa. Opposition parties from across the political spectrum agreed to put aside differences and focus on shared goals: to stop corruption, to create jobs, and to deliver basic services. One year on, the national coalition agreement still stands and is producing positive results. While coalitions pose their own unique challenges, and are often difficult to manage, they are the future of South Africa – and must be embraced. Moreover, these cities will provide the blueprint for a 2019 coalition at national government level, led by the DA. We are preparing the road to a post-ANC South Africa; a new beginning for our country.

From day one, we have worked hard to ensure that the mess we inherited from the ANC is reversed, and that stable and efficient governments are put in place, committed to creating jobs and delivering quality services to the people.

When DA-led governments assumed office in the metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay in August last year, they were faced with the mammoth task of turning around cities which were beleaguered with ANC corruption and maladministration on almost every level. Over the course of two decades, the ANC had run these administrations into the ground. They had become hotbeds of corruption and looting under the ANC, and were in financial and administrative disarray. The extent of the mess we found cannot be overstated.

In Johannesburg, we inherited a city characterised by a historical neglect of the basics of local government. There was little to no real service delivery, and a growing population of jobless South Africans desperate for opportunity. There were serious backlogs in areas critical to achieving economic and job growth, which required immediate action.

The City of Johannesburg currently has 1920 open investigations ranging from corruption and fraud, theft, building hijacking and the like; all totaling approximately R10,4 billion in revenue lost by the City. These cases are equivalent to about 19% of the City’s total budget. Cases relating to allegations of corruption represent an astounding R8.9 billion in lost revenue, which could have been used to provide needed services to residents and upgrade city infrastructure.

Added to this, the ANC had created a massive backlog in infrastructure development and maintenance, a R232 billion funding gap, which would directly jeopardise our capital expenditure needs. Moreover, we were left with a housing backlog of 300 000 – the previous administration had only delivered 3500 houses per year on average. This was a crisis waiting to unfold.

The billing crisis that the City is currently working to fix is a direct result of the previous ANC administration’s sheer failure to institute proper processes, and enforce equitable payment methods. The DA-led administration is focused on resolving this matter.

Moreover, we inherited a city with 180 informal settlements, many of which have no basic services and people who have waited for decades on a housing list, which has never been transparent and available to them.

In Tshwane, the DA-led government was handed a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy, riddled with financial irregularities. The City was on the verge of bankruptcy with a deficit in excess of R2 billion. The Office of the Executive Mayor had a total staff compliment of 998 personnel, many of which were ANC members drawing money from the state while doing nothing. Moreover, the Office of the City Manager inherited a structure inflated and bloated to include four Deputy City Managers, eight Regional Executive Directors, and their deputies, carrying a salary bill of R96 million a year.

We were also faced with R10 million worth of invoices submitted to the former Office of the Speaker for “work” done during the period 2014, 2015 and 2016. This “work” could not be corroborated, nor was there justification for the payments.

The ANC administration had seen fit to spend R12 million to upgrade the R90 million mayoral house, which ended in disaster. Large scale loss occurred, as the plumbing system, cupboards, and even the roof were left damaged. Mayor Msimanga took a decision to sell this mansion to free up funds for service delivery projects.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, the abuse of public funds was evident from day one. We immediately discovered questionable contracts entered into by the previous administration – the most telling being for the supply of light bulbs at R600 per bulb. Moreover, the former Mayor had seen fit to splash out R250 000 of public money to get his face onto the front cover of a magazine, and to blow R21 million on a vanity project called the ‘City of Champions’ that was nothing but a frivolous waste of money with no local government purpose, function or outcome.

We discovered a contract worth R22 million with Mohlaleng Media which duplicated the work of municipal staff and predictably delivered negligible outcomes. Mayor Athol Trollip immediately froze this contract.

From day one, DA-led governments have moved to dismantle the corrupt systems we found, banning the extravagant perks and privileges enjoyed by ANC governed officials, and introducing thorough and corruption-proof processes and systems to fundamentally overhaul what the previous ANC administrations had deliberately designed to enrich their cronies and comrades.

While there is still much to be done in these cities, we have made significant progress to change the system towards people-orientated governments that are clean, efficient, and accountable to the public. Here follows a summary of progress made in each of the DA-run metros.

Johannesburg

Under the DA-led government in Johannesburg, the City is well on its way to strengthening its hand as the economic powerhouse of Africa. People from all around the country flock to the City in hope of finding opportunity and creating a better life, and as such, the City is under great demand to deliver. Mayor Mashaba’s administration has risen to the challenge and has taken huge strides in moving Johannesburg forward.

Transport within the City has been a long-standing challenge, with hundreds of thousands of residents requiring access to reliable public transport. Metrobus operates just under 400 buses carrying over 50 000 passengers daily, some of whom are amongst the poorest residents of our city. The City has thus increased Metrobus’s capacity by 50%, adding 200 new buses to its fleet, providing residents with greater access to transport.

Added to this, Metro Bus has added additional operating times on the OR Tambo International Airport route during off-peak hours to connect commuters with airlines. This will mean that Metro Bus will now offer seven daily trips to and from the Airport terminals and at Gandhi Square in Johannesburg CBD.

In the current financial year, the City has allocated R105 million for the installation and repair of broken traffic signals throughout the City. This year alone, 89 intersections were re-cabled and are now joint free. There has also been an 18% reduction in the average number of daily traffic light faults over the past seven months. This has resulted in a 55% reduction in the average traffic light downtime per day.

Access to decent sanitation is a basic human right, and ought to be a priority for any caring government. This matter was neglected by the previous ANC administration, and as such, the DA-led government more than doubled the previous sanitation budget, increasing it from R17 million to R40 million. This will enhance the delivery of decent sanitation to the City’s informal settlements, highlighting our commitment to restore the dignity of Johannesburg’s forgotten people.

To improve access to health services for some of our poorest residents, the City has rolled out extended operating hours at 6 clinics across Johannesburg, including clinics in Princess Park, Freedom Park, Randburg, and Zandspruit.

For some, municipal libraries remain the only safe haven to study after hours in pursuit of a better education. Despite this, access to these libraries was limited. Therefore the City moved to extend operating hours at 10 of our regional libraries – some open until as late as 22h00including libraries in Jabavu, Orange Farm and Diepsloot. This will go a long way in ensuring that our youth, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, have safe learning and studying environments after hours. Since piloting this project just two months ago, more than 2000 users have benefitted from the extended operating hours.

Moreover, R482 million has been set aside within Pikitup’s budget for cleaning informal settlements over the next three financial years, guaranteeing that a cleaner living environment is not reserved for just a few.

A still visible legacy of apartheid is prevalent in the City’s housing shortage. Yet, last year the previous ANC administration had a target of developing only 3,750 mixed housing development units. Alive to this injustice, the DA-led government increased this target to 5,000 in the City’s current financial year and a total of 17,200 over the medium term.

Added to this, the City has set itself the task of upgrading 10 informal settlements this financial year, whereas the ANC set itself a target of upgrading only 2 in the past financial year. We have budgeted R1.9 billion to upgrade 50 informal settlements in the medium term.

The City’s fire services were severely under-resourced when the DA took over last year. Mayor Mashaba authorized the purchase of 28 new state-of-the-art fire engines, at a total cost of R189 million. The City has also taken steps to employ an additional 160 firefighters to enhance the capacity of its Emergency Management Services (EMS).

The effects of drug abuse and drug related crimes have long plagued the city, wreaking havoc on individuals, families, and communities. The City has launched a brand new K9-Narcotics Unit to tackle this scourge. The unit, made up of various authorities including police and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, is a specialised team of officers and dogs who are trained to handle hijackings, robberies, bombs, kidnappings and drug-related incidents.

To date, the Unit’s laser focus on drug related crimes in hotspot areas has yielded much success, including the seizure of 56.28kg of dagga at an estimated street value of R 1.2 million; the recovery of R60 million in stolen mobile phones; and the seizure of 27 kilograms of illicit drugs with an estimated value of more than R44 000 in Turffontein and Roodepoort.

Tshwane

When the DA-led government took over in Tshwane, the Capital City was on the verge of bankruptcy – with a deficit in excess of R2 billion owing to two decades of reckless governance by the ANC. Since then, Mayor Solly Msimanga’s administration has begun addressing a multitude of cross-cutting problems to help stabilise the city, grow its economy, and provide basic services to the disadvantaged. This will be done through a balanced IDP supported by a fully-funded budget.

The City inherited an almost R700 million broadband contract. The City is currently working to get it on a solid legal and financial footing, so that we can continue with the roll out of free Wi-Fi in a manner that does not threaten to bankrupt the city. The aim is to proliferate our Wi-Fi offering to ensure that more residents gain access to it while it is self-sufficient and is not solely reliant on the city as was the case in the previous administration.

The City is currently also in the process of extricating itself from a R2 billion smart meter contract which was found to be irregular by the Auditor-General. Legal proceedings are currently underway and we are optimistic that this will put the city in a much better position to provide affordable and sustainable electricity to our people.

Within one year, the City has uncovered corruption by the previous administration, including the City Hall scandal; the shoe polish debacle to the tune of R30 million; and the Dineokeng Tribe One Nicki Minaj fiasco that cost the residents of Tshwane in excess of R60 million and is currently under investigation by the DA-led multi-party administration. The extravagant Mayoral Mansion is currently in the process of being sold to free up much needed funds for the financially beleaguered City. To add to this, blue lights were banned, and the policy for international travel has been revised to ensure that all travel is cost effective and has tangible returns on investment for the city and its residents.

In terms of economic growth and job creation, the City has attracted R2.29 billion rand in investment in just nine months – exceeding its own target. In the new financial year, the City is creating 23 000 EPWP work opportunities to alleviate the burden of poverty and ensure people can find work.

The delivery of title deeds is a critical step towards empowering South Africans, as registered ownership of land is an economic asset. The DA-led government in Tshwane has to date handed over 2804 title deeds since assuming office and is scheduled to handover 6000 title deeds to residents in the 2017/18 in a transparent and objective process, and will continue to streamline this process in order to deliver title deeds to all who qualify.

With respect to service delivery to poor communities, the City of Tshwane is hard at work. This year, the City’s partnership with Eskom has allowed it to ensure that over 80% of households have access to electricity. Electricity delivery and cost has been addressed through the Embedded Power Generation programme, which has streamlined small and medium size power companies’ access to the market, democratising access and provision, and ultimately lowering the cost of electricity.

Along with this, City electricity infrastructure, such as the Eldoraigne substation, has been upgraded to ensure safe and consistent supply. Over R13 million has been invested in the restoration of water infrastructure around the city, ensuring that clean water is a right, not a privilege. An additional 6690 households were provided with a full water meter connection and 5256 additional households were provided with water borne sewerage disposal.

Large-scale infrastructure in areas such as the Hammanskraal extension 10 project, and the construction of tarred roads in Soshanguve Extension 12 and 13 have ensured that these communities have safe, dust free, and convenient transport routes in and out of the City.

To create a much safer and secure city the DA-led administration has allocated R2 billion to the metro police for efforts to rejuvenate the inner city so we can attract more investment and to the Anti-Cable theft Unit which Mayor Msimanga established to deal with the criminality that hampers the provision of reliable water and electricity to our people. These units have led to a marked decrease in such criminal behaviour. The issue of cable theft is a serious challenge which we are still a long way from correcting, but we are working to do so.

Drugs are a massive problem in the Capital City. Last month, the City signed 23 service level agreements with NPOs charged with assisting us with the war on drugs and not drug addicts. These service level agreements supported by R40 million from Tshwane 2017/18 new budget will go some way into dealing with, what is a, huge problem experienced by the people of Tshwane.

Lastly, the City instituted a raft of programmes designed to save money, chief among these being the strategic sourcing of goods and services by government, opening of the tender adjudication process, and online e-procurement systems – all aimed at curbing waste within government.

Nelson Mandela Bay

The project of turning around the fortunes of Nelson Mandela Bay was of particular importance to its DA-led government, as it was one of the worst performing metros in the country under ANC Mayor, Danny Jordaan. After only a single year of DA governance, the City rose from the second lowest trusted metro in the country, to the second highest – a real vote of confidence in Mayor Trollip and his government.

In the DA administration’s first budget, 90% has been allocated to previously disadvantaged individual and communities, ensuring that those left behind are afforded equal access to opportunity and the playing field is levelled. The City’s Capex rate is at 93%, and boasts a 93.7% revenue collection rate – the best financial position the metro has been in for over 7 years.

12 000 informal households are in the process of receiving running water and sanitation for the first time; a number that will continue to grow until all residents have a home they can be proud of.

One of the City’s flagship projects, Operation Buyisa Isidima, was launched this year, with a particular focus on fixing the housing crisis and giving people title to their homes. This has seen the handover of more than 2000 title deeds in a fair and transparent manner. The project seeks to address the housing backlog – currently standing at 80 000 – and to root out corruption in the housing list process.

In order to create a safer city, the DA-led administration established the City’s first Metro Police Service. This world-class service consists of 114 well-trained officers, with two satellite offices in Bethelsdorp and KwaNobuhle. The fight against crime in Nelson Mandela Bay is well underway.

Creating opportunity for those who have been left behind is a top priority for all DA-run governments. Thus far, the City has created 4000 new job opportunities, ensuring that individuals are able to participate in the economy and create a meaningful life for themselves and their loved ones.

To help young people to fulfill their potential, the City will provide bursaries to 1800 students – to the total value of R34 million. Moreover 300 young people have already this year gone through learnerships in the City, to ensure that they have the requisite skills to provide them access to better jobs.

Hand in hand with the above programmes, the Mayor will establish a “Jobs Desk” in his office that will facilitate the municipal bursary process, and will expand incentives for business to employ first time job seekers.

The Mayor has taken significant steps to reverse the ANC’s status quo of “government first, citizens last”. The use of blue lights in the City was stopped, all domestic business class travel for politicians was banned, and an anti-corruption hotline was launched to root out corruption in government.

City of Cape Town

In the 2016 elections, the residents of Cape Town gave the DA a fresh mandate to govern the City for another term, and to continue the progress already made by the DA-controlled government in the preceding years. Since then, Mayor De Lille and her government have been hard at work to continue the City’s innovative and pro-poor agenda in a clean, honest and efficient manner.

In the City of Cape Town, creating work opportunities for our people through economic growth remains a top priority. In the past year, despite the poor economic conditions, which persist nationwide, the City attracted R2.67 billion worth of investment, resulting in the creation of 6236 new jobs. In order to create and sustain an enabling environment for economic growth and job creation, R22 billion has been invested over the last four years in a wide range of infrastructure projects to foster innovation and ease the burden of doing business in the City.

In order to empower young people and establish an equipped work force, the City will spend a total of R21 million on an array of bursaries, apprenticeships, and learnerships for young people who do not have access to such funding during the current financial leave.

Access to the internet is a determinate factor both in the development of new technology-dependent businesses, as well as access to information for individuals. To this date, over 790 kilometres of fibre-optic cable has been rolled out throughout the city, and 301 city-owned buildings are connected to this network. We are renting out our extra capacity to the private sector. As a result, students in libraries can now access information faster, our clinics are more effective and can process and catalog key information faster, and business can compete with others in developed economies.

Focusing on small businesses as a primary catalyst for economic growth, the City has established a one-stop shop solution to support small and medium sized businesses (SMMEs). Its Business Support Project will provide assistance to 500 SMMEs per year, for the next 5 years, facilitating their growth and ensuring that entrepreneurs are given a real opportunity to innovate, grow and succeed.

In order to ease the burden on jobseekers, the City will be providing free transport for those looking for work – a South African first. The Mayor has allocated R6.6 million to subsidise free bus rides on MyCiti busses for jobseekers, enabling greater access to opportunity for those who are left out of the economy.

In terms of redress, the City has led from the front in empowering black-owned companies and individuals. The City has issued 92% of its 219 000 purchase orders to BEE-compliant vendors – to the value of almost R14 billion.

To address the unjust legacy of apartheid spatial planning, the City will expedite the delivery of housing opportunities through affordable housing in close proximity to economic hubs. 10 City-owned sites have been identified in the city centre, Salt River and Woodstock to be used for over 700 affordable housing units for those who need it most. There are future plans to create affordable housing in smaller inner-cities such as Bellville, Parow, Khayelitsha, Claremont, Mitchells Plain and Wynberg.

The City has sped up the delivery of title deeds, empowering individuals to use their property to leverage their own success. By June 2016, the City had registered more than 148 000 historic title deeds. Just last month, the Mayor handed over 5000 title deeds in the communities of Mfuleni, Wallacedene, Wesbank, and Kallefontein.

The City has begun a number of community projects in targeted areas, including the construction of a R23 million library in Dunoon, a R28 million housing project in Macassar, a R66 million road project in Kommetjie, and a R46 million primary health clinic in Pelican Park.

Conclusion

The DA recognises that while much progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. Now more than ever, the people of South Africa are looking to the DA to cement itself as the alternative government in a post-ANC South Africa. We thus commit to doing more and delivering more for every South African who falls under a DA-led government.

Our governments will continue to work hard to ensure that where we govern, we govern in an open, transparent and people-orientated manner. After decades of neglect by previous ANC administrations, the people of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Town can have hope in their governments that are focused on delivering for the people. Where we govern, jobs are created, corruption is eradicated, and services are provided to all.

Being in government in these cities is both a privilege and an incredible opportunity for our party to demonstrate the positive change that can be effected when voters choose differently, and elect a clean, well-run, and service delivery orientated government.

Come 2019, South Africans will be faced with a decision at the polls. We can either allow the ANC to continue their looting and inability to govern, or we can elect a DA-led coalition to national government, one which will revive the dream of 1994 and get South Africa working again.

Be a part of CHANGE. It’s time to unite!

In 2019, we have an opportunity to bring the change that South Africa so desperately needs, but to do it, we need your help.


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