Residents of Kimberley
We have literally reached a crossroads in this municipality, the biggest municipality in the Northern Cape.
For the very first time since the start of our democracy, there is a very real possibility that support for the ANC can be pushed to under 50% in Sol Plaatje and that we, as the DA, can become the anchor tenant of a coalition that may wrestle control of this municipality from the ruling party.
This, ladies and gentlemen, shows just how far the DA has come in this province, and just how much the failing ANC has regressed.
Before I go any further, let me state that once upon a time, like many of you, I also voted for the ANC. They played a significant role in then fight against apartheid but they have in many regards, squandered the hard-earned gain or our democracy, it is therefore time for change.
The ANC has not been as successful in achieving the dream of building One South Africa for All. This is an important task that we as the DA have taken up.
This is because the failing ANC has left decades of corruption unchecked, at the expense of service delivery. This is because millions of rands have been diverted away from service delivery, into private bank accounts of connected individuals. Sol Plaatje is no exception. The damning, yet untouchable, Section 106 report into maladministration within this municipality, is a prime example.
While the failing ANC has also come up with some pretty good plans, and some very bad plans, after 25 years they have not been able to implement the change that they pledged. More than 20 years ago, then Mayor David Monyamane budgeted R5 million towards replacing a water pipe in Beaconsfield. This, like so many other things never happened. And so, commitments turned to empty promises, one after the other.
Another very simple example, has been the undertaking by every ANC Mayor of Sol Plaatje, including former Mayor Mangaliso Matika and current Mayor Patrick Mabilo, to clean up this city. But just look at this place!
Kimberley is probably the dirtiest and untidiest city in this country. This is in spite of the fact that almost 500 EPWP workers collectively invest approximately 2500 working hours per day, for five days a week, in cleaning up this city. This clearly shows, that regardless of the resources at its disposal, the failing ANC is incapable of managing the very real problems that the people of Kimberley face.
President Cyril Ramaphosa may have heralded a so-called “new dawn” but the sun is fast setting on the ANC’s attempt at renewal. Ramaphosa is just a new driver of a broken bus and Mabilo is just a new driver of a broken mini-bus. And even with them behind the wheel, the failing ANC will not drive off into the sunset in a happy fairy tale ending for all our people.
More and more people are opening their eyes to this reality.
More and more people are starting to see that the ANC is at war but that this time, they are not fighting for your rights, instead they are fighting with each other for positions of power and they are fighting for their own survival, at whatever the cost. And let me tell you that the cost is high and it includes the ANC gambling with your pensions, it includes them putting a stake on your home and land, and it includes them dividing this nation on the basis of race.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the DA really is the only hope for our shattered country, South Africa, for the dead beat province of the Northern Cape and for the malfunctioning city of Kimberley.
The DA is not perfect, no political party is, and we concede that we too have made our share of mistakes. But the DA won’t take away your pensions or your homes. The DA stands for all the people, and we stand against all forms of racism – be it white on black or black on white.
Very importantly, the DA is also the only party that has been able to prove that, unlike the ANC, we get things done and, where we govern, we govern well.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what has actually brought us together today.
The DA is serious about taking control of Sol Plaatje municipality.
On a local government level, the failing ANC has left the poor out in the sewage. It has left taxpaying citizens in the dark. And It has left business high and dry.
However, this need not be the fate of this city.
To show that the DA means business, I am now going to outline our plan for the First 100 Days in government, in Sol Plaatje municipality. This is what we will do to polish the rough diamond that is Sol Plaatje so that we can eventually reveal the true potential of this 5 carat city.
First and foremost, we will sign a service delivery contract with the residents of Sol Plaatje, committing to our blueprint below, so that you, the citizens, can hold us accountable.
Next, we will tackle the biggest service delivery failures affecting Sol Plaatje municipality, including water, sanitation and electricity challenges. In order to do this, we will need to take a multi-level approach that will entail a number of concurrent initiatives:
- We will launch a skills audit, as we know that at present, there are underqualified staff managing the city’s highly complicated infrastructure network. In fact, the city does not even have a single fully qualified engineer, and we would immediately embark on a recruitment process to attain this non-negotiable, critical skill to eradicate the current lack of foresight and vision that impairs the sustainability of this institution.
- We will commission an immediate independent audit of the municipal water supply versus water needs, as well as identify opportunities for limiting water wastage during municipal activities.
- In order to better manage the current water situation, we will prioritise valve replacement to be able to implement partial lowered water pressure, in the place of total water cuts, that not only inflate bills as a result of air in the pipes but also aggravate the bursting of pipes.
- We will also tackle the lack of long term vision within Sol Plaatje and commence with the development of a 30-year plan, to ensure the sustainability of bulk service provision in the future.
- Simultaneously, we will commence with a costing plan to: triple the volume of the main water line from Riverton to Kimberley; establish additional reservoirs to increase the volume of potable water; as well as replace identified pumps at the current reservoirs.
- We will ring-fence a consistent budget for the replacement of water and sewerage pipes, to bring an end to the current ad hoc crisis mode, in which the municipality functions.
- We will expand the sewerage service, to ensure that blockages are speedily dealt with and do not culminate in open cesspits that engulf houses and entire communities, to the detriment of people’s health and quality of life.
- We will prioritise the upgrade of key substations that are in serious disrepair, so that these stations don’t trip entire areas each time there is a lightning storm.
- We will also embark on engagements with the community to ensure that the still confusing electricity tariff structure is properly understood and negotiated, in order to ensure the most efficient and cost effective approach, for all sectors of society, regardless of whether they use prepaid or conventional electricity.
- We also deal decisively with the budgetary shortfall caused by the mismanagement of the electricity tariff over the years, by cutting on non-essential services to make up the deficit. In this regard, we will also do our best to not cut on services, such as street lighting, that make residents more vulnerable to crime.
- At the same time, we will prioritise revenue collection by tackling outstanding debt that affects the municipality’s ability to function as a going concern. In this regard, we will put more pressure on government departments who owe the municipality millions of rands. We will also look at cutting the electricity of politicians, as well as councillors and employees of Sol Plaatje, who are in arrears on their accounts before looking at the accounts of residents, and seeing how best we can accommodate the lower income holders, without overburdening the higher income holders.
Other than urgently tackling bulk service provision, the DA also has plans to rapidly improve general services:
- In order to ensure more transparency in terms of complaints lodged by residents, we will implement a responsive call centre, as well as an online reporting service, where progress on faults will be able to be tracked from start to finish. So, if you reported a broken street light or a pothole, you will at any given time be able to monitor the work done in resolving your complaint.
- We will commence with the development of a maintenance plan for refuse removal trucks. This will prevent backlogs in rubbish collection, as occurred in December last year, when only one truck was operational while the other six were in the dock, awaiting repairs.
- We will also commence with the repair of all potholes and the panting of all street names in the city. In this regard, we will look towards partnering with civil society and businesses, like the DFA, which has embarked on its own very successful “We Build this City” campaign. Once we have caught up on the backlog of potholes, we will further implement a 48-hour pothole repair service, in order to ensure that our roads never deteriorate to the current “donga” status again.
On the matter of housing, we will ensure that housing lists are maintained in a fair manner, and that the actual owners are living in RDP houses. We will also launch an investigation into concerns that the names of approximately 25 000 housing beneficiaries, were never handed over by Sol Plaatje to COGHSTA, to feature on the official housing needs register.
In order to tackle corruption, the DA will:
- Review the contracts of all service providers, to stop open-ended tenders and ensure value for money;
- Do a salary audit of all employees of this municipality;
- Put an end to the constant deviations on existing tenders;
- Conduct an audit of all municipal assets;
- Visit all audit reports of the Auditor-General and address the highlighted challenges.
The DA will also launch an internal anti-corruption unit, pursue cases up until criminal prosecution and ensure that internal disciplinary steps are also taken against implicated employees.
We will further establish an anti-fraud hotline that will allow people to anonymously report corruption, at the same time implementing a whistle-blower protection campaign.
On the jobs front:
- We will strive to attract investment by making it easier and cheaper to do business in Kimberley. This not only relates directly to our commitment towards improved bulk service provision but will also see us offering various levels of immunity on rates and taxes for new start-up businesses and businesses relocating to Kimberley, for periods of up to three years.
- We will immediately open direct channels of communication for business and will ensure that there is a dedicated official, available 24/7, to deal with challenges in the business sector.
- We will implement a local economic development empowerment plan to assist local businesses to comply with respective requirements, so that where possible, we can do more business with local service providers as opposed to service providers from other provinces.
- We will offer incentives for business and organisations to adopt the areas in their surroundings, in order to further clean and beautify this city, and in turn attract further investment.
- We will set up designated informal trading sites for hawkers and ensure that they have permits to conduct their trade, so as not to harm legal businesses that are paying rates and taxes.
- Unlike the ANC, we will also proceed with the long overdue development of an Economic Development Plan, to bring investment into the city. While this was meant to have been finalised five years ago, suspended Municipal Manager Goolam Akharwaray, halted the process because he didn’t like the company which was awarded the contract. He then handpicked a contractor from Johannesburg, to do a rehash of the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan at a cost of R2 million, instead.
- With regards to the EPWP programme, we will adopt an open and inclusive recruitment and lottery selection system, giving every qualifying individual equal opportunity at securing employment through the EPWP programme. This will entail a fair and random selection process, hereby eliminating patronage and nepotism.
- We will also devise an effectively structured plan for EPWP work that adds real and sustained value to Kimberley. This said, given the number of EPWP opportunities on offer by Sol Plaatje, we will further strive to win the next “cleanest city of the year” competition.
In respect of crime and illegalities, the DA will:
- Prioritise public lighting in areas that are poorly lit and prone to crime, and upgrade playgrounds, parks and open spaces;
- Develop a relationship with, accrediting and capacitating neighbourhood watch groups as partners in fighting crime;
- We will also start the process of negotiations for the establishment of a Municipal Court. Without this, our currently overburdened Magistrates Courts will not be able to enforce by-laws so that there can be consequence management for transgressions such as illegal dumping and drinking on the streets.
- We will also prioritise the training of currently employed municipal law enforcement officers, who are currently non-operational, so that they can police the local by-laws.
- At the same time, we will employ more municipal law enforcement officers to make sure public safety is improved, also placing community safety kiosks in key areas.
- We will further establish local drug action committees, bringing together government, NGOs, religious groups and communities to reduce the supply and demand for drugs and addressing other safety issues.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are initiatives that the DA will prioritise.
There is nonetheless lots more that will still need to be done but the DA will work around the clock to make up for time and opportunities lost under the failing ANC government.
We will implement best practise, from lessons learned in municipalities that we govern.
We will get things done and we will turn Sol Plaatje municipality around.
We just need your support at the ballot box on Wednesday.
So go out and tell all your friends and family that the blue machine is here and it is ready. Lend us your vote, so that we can obtain the license we need tow Sol Plaatje out from the marsh where the broken yellow bus deserted it.
Not Cyril Ramaphosa, not Zamani Saul and not Patrick Mabilo can change the trajectory of the doomed ANC.
But don’t despair.
Under a DA-led government, a new city, that will realise the dream of One South Africa for All, lies in wait.