Nothing could better underscore the importance of voting – and voting DA – in the upcoming local government elections than yesterday’s news that dairy group Clover has decided to close South Africa’s biggest cheese factory, in the North West town of Lichtenburg.
This decision comes on the back of large financial losses due to poor or non-existent service delivery by Ditsobotla Local Municipality. The frequent water and electricity supply disruptions and crumbling municipal infrastructure including the practically impassable road leading to the factory means it is no longer feasible for Clover to operate there.
Clover is consolidating its production activities in its Durban factory, a move which will cost Clover R1.5 billion. This is a massive vote of no confidence in Ditsobotla municipality and a massive blow to the community. Some 330 breadwinners will lose their jobs. Other smaller businesses in the municipality will suffer a drop in demand for goods and services.
On the other side of the spectrum lies Midvaal Municipality, the only local government in Gauteng that the DA runs with a full mandate. A decade of solid delivery under the capable leadership of DA mayor Bongani Baloyi has attracted investment to the area and boosted local economic activity, giving rise to its reputation as the fastest-growing municipality in Gauteng.
Unsurprisingly, Sedibeng Breweries, South African distributors for Heineken chose to establish its national office there, bringing with it new opportunities for job creation and small business. Other major organisations operating there are Ferrero Roche, New Hope, BSI Steel, South 32, Paramount Trailers and the Oprah Winfrey School. You will not find any of them closing or moving because of poor municipal service delivery.
Midvaal is rated one of the top five best-run municipalities out of 278 municipalities in the country, by independent ratings agency Ratings Africa. It is also the best-performing municipality in Gauteng, and the only one that can boast seven consecutive years of clean audits, meaning public money is reliably spent on the public.
This tale of two municipalities shows the clear blue water between DA- and ANC-run governments. It also makes clear the relationship between local government performance and the area’s ability to attract and retain investment.
More investment means more jobs, more economic activity, and more revenue that can be spent on things that improve people’s lives, such as electrifying informal settlements and building community sports facilities. DA-run Midvaal Municipality does these things and much more.
Local government is the coalface of service delivery and is therefore especially important to vulnerable communities. It is also the essential foundation on which our country’s economy is built. Businesses like Clover vote with their feet. No business will risk investing in a municipality that can’t guarantee delivery of the most basic services required to run a business profitably – water, electricity, roads, sanitation, refuse collection.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the broad unemployment level in DA-run Western Cape province, where most DA-run municipalities are located, is 17.5 percentage points lower than the average for the other eight provinces. This is according to Statistics SA’s recently released figures for the first quarter of 2021, which show unemployment at 27.9% in the Western Cape and at 45.4% in the rest of South Africa.
The DA is the only party with a proven track record of delivery. If we want to revive the dying economies of our towns and cities, we have to install DA governments in municipalities and metros across the country. The upcoming local government elections on 27 October 2021 is a crucial opportunity for voters to do this.
Yesterday, the DA was first out of the blocks with its voter registration campaign, fixing DA registration posters to street poles in Nelson Mandela Bay. DA registration posters will be going up across the country from this week, calling on all South Africans who will be 18 years or older by 27 October to use the registration weekend of 17 and 18 July to make sure they registered to vote DA.
If we want South Africa to work, we need to fix it. There is no more powerful action step you can take to fix your town or city than to vote DA on 27 October 2021, because the DA gets things done.