The “ideological load-shedding” arrangement that is the DA/EFF coalition governments in Tshwane and Johannesburg has predictably created a state of paralysis in both municipalities, with service delivery and effective governance at an all-time low. Both parties have hence resorted to blame-shifting and political red herrings, as evidenced by the recent unfounded allegations by the EFF and its Gauteng chairperson Mandiso Mashego, which are going to cost her and her party an arm and a leg through the legal route. The mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba’s constant corruption witch-hunts have likewise yielded no tangible results regarding improving the lives of Johannesburg citizens. The city is in a permanent state of inertia, as Mashaba keeps crying wolf instead of truly taking up the responsibility to govern that has been entrusted to him through this coalition arrangement.
The DA/EFF coalition government in Tshwane is in similar a state of shambles, and there are doubts about its ability to operate for the next 12 months without financial assistance. According to the recently released report of the auditor-general (AG), Tshwane is officially the leading municipality in South Africa when it comes to irregular, fruitless and unauthorised expenditure. Things have fallen apart to such an extent that the DA/EFF coalition appears to have been reduced to the utter shock and dismay expressed by one of the characters in William Golding’s iconic novel Lord of the Flies: “We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”
This is what happens when an ideologically bankrupt alliance is forged for the sake of expediency, to the detriment of voters’ interests. This coalition arrangement reminds one of the tragic union between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Upon coming to power, Macbeth proves himself to be inept and lacking the necessary tact and skills to rule, while Lady Macbeth, despite her lust for power and position, ends up falling victim to guilt and madness. Their joint alienation from the real world, even when in power, is a reflection of the DA/EFF coalitions in Johannesburg and Tshwane, a union that was doomed to fail from the start. It’s a bit like the fellow who claimed to have attained a medical degree from the University of Johannesburg in a recent episode of the popular television programme Date my Family. They have proven themselves to be real “political Mabenas” in Twitterati lingo.
Au contraire, the ANC-led Gauteng provincial government made real advances in delivering integrated and sustainable human settlements during its fifth administration, with over 73 000 housing units built, over 44 000 serviced stands and 62 000 title deeds handed out in the introduction of its ground-breaking rapid land release programme. These are steady signs of progress, although we do admittedly need to do much more and at an accelerated rate during the sixth administration in order to meet the growing demand in our ever-evolving city region.
As part of our commitment to Grow Gauteng Together during the sixth administration, we will continue to build liveable human settlements that address spatial inequality, accelerate our rapid land release programme and the handing over of title deeds, complete our mega human settlements projects and resuscitate and complete our urban renewal programme, with a specific focus on Bekkersdal, Evaton, Alex, Kliptown and Winterveldt.
We require collaboration with all our municipalities in order to achieve this, as well as to avail 100 000 fully-serviced stands over the next five years. It is in this regard that we must with utmost contempt condemn Mashaba’s failure to spend grant funds that were given to him by the provincial government for building houses over the past financial year, and for displaying utter disregard to the housing backlog that confronts the citizens of Johannesburg. How do we justify granting him funds when he is so blasé about meeting the human settlements needs of Johannesburg citizens? We, as a provincial government, will find a way to ensure that the citizens of Johannesburg are not sold short of their housing expectations going forward.
Tshwane only spent 50% of their capital expenditure budget, money meant to build roads, libraries and other infrastructure in the townships; a terrible injustice to the poor. As stated by national treasury, “low capital spending has potentially serious implications for the government’s ability to meet the target for expanded access to water, sanitation, electricity and job creation”.
We will be releasing land and buildings that are not utilised for commercial activities, especially with the township economy in mind and working at formalising our informal settlements. We will be taking steps and implementing measures aimed at catalysing the township real estate market. We will also be releasing land in order to cater for the needs of our faith-based communities within Gauteng. We will be taking measures to address and stop illegal land invasions. All of these measures will require collaboration and support from our municipalities, and it is with this in mind that we must condemn the EFF for exploiting the genuine concerns of our people by promoting illegal land occupations. In a constitutional democracy such as ours, this smacks of rank opportunism and irresponsibility. As a governing party that is the legitimate custodian of the hopes and aspirations of our people, we cannot allow ourselves to descend into such a chaotic state as seen in DA/EFF-run municipalities.
As per the AG’s recently released report, Gauteng municipalities have made an improvement, in that 100% of them have obtained a financially unqualified opinion for the past three years. But challenges still remain in terms of adhering to local government legislation and implementing the AG’s recommendations, and we will be working very closely with all our municipalities in order to ensure compliance as well as better service delivery for Gauteng citizens.
We will also be working very closely with our municipalities to enhance their revenue generating (collecting) capacity in order to ensure their long-term financial viability and sustainability. The stability, sustainability and effectiveness of our municipalities is sacrosanct to us as we pursue the betterment of people’s lives, and hence it makes no sense to us that a party that has been given votes by our citizens (the EFF) has now taken a posture that it will no longer be voting in municipalities. This is an abdication of responsibility given to them by voters, as it has the potential of negatively impacting on service delivery — votes are necessary to pass resolutions in council, especially for things such as municipal budgets. We will be putting together a council, as announced by the premier, to help us deal with traditional affairs, and in pursuit of economic transformation we will be actively working to empower at least 50 black firms (women and youth included) as we roll out our human settlements programme in Gauteng.
As the sixth administration, our duty remains to ensure that we bridge the gap between our vision and people’s daily lived experiences through our transformative, revolutionary programme aimed at equitably growing Gauteng. Like President Cyril Ramaphosa, we are inspired by a dream, a dream to see a better Gauteng, with every household having access to basic shelter, land and a decent income. Like TE Lawrence, we remain of the conviction that, “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
Lebogang Maile is the Gauteng MEC for human settlements, urban planning, co-operative governance and traditional affairs. This is a print version of a speech he gave during the post state of the province debate at the Gauteng legislature on July 4 2019