It’s crunch time and the three largest political parties have upped the ante in a bid to convince the electorate they are best placed to govern and deliver services at municipal level.
The ANC, Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters have each leveraged the popularity of their top brass in canvassing for votes in municipalities.
The EFF has had very few speed humps to contend with: aside from its demands that the public broadcaster dedicate a team to cover its elections campaign and breaking Covid-19 regulations during its manifesto launch, leader Julius Malema has been relatively blemish free.
Meanwhile, the DA and the ANC have each been rocked by scandal.
The DA KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson, Dean Macpherson, was disciplined by the party over the controversial election posters he had displayed in the Phoenix area, where more than 30 people were killed in violence and looting in the July unrest.
Macpherson was ordered to take the posters down by the party’s federal executive.
The posters, stating “The ANC called you racists” and “The DA calls you heroes”, appeared in the Phoenix area earlier this month, sparking outrage from the ANC and local organisations.
The DA was subsequently reported to the South African Human Rights Commission by a local activist who wants action to be taken against the party — and Macpherson — for the posters’ “racially inciting” content.
Meanwhile, the ANC’s top brass have been bitterly received in communities while campaigning there. Residents of Soweto hurled insults at President Cyril Ramaphosa when he visited the area. In Tshwane, Deputy President David Mabuza also received a lacklustre reception as residents blamed the ANC for factional infighting, unemployment and service delivery woes in the country.
ANC members have also disputed some of the party’s candidates for this year’s local government elections, with some members threatening to go to court. In some instances, infighting among party members has degenerated into bloody chaos, with at least 10 people killed during the candidate selection process.
Each party has made promises to the electorate in an attempt to woo voters.
The DA manifesto
The DA was the first to launch its manifesto, on 25 September, promising to modernise policing at the municipal level by investing in localised law enforcement.
In his speech, DA leader John Steenhuisen said that the party’s goal was to devolve much of the policing functions from the national government to competent metros and municipalities, adding that the party would fight the state’s attempts to bring all metro police departments and municipal law enforcement into one, centralised police service.
“DA governments will invest in crime information services and smart policing that is information-driven, intelligence-driven and data-driven. This includes CCTV cameras, gunfire detection; crime data analysis; integrated and computer-aided call taking, dispatching and mobile in-vehicle enablement systems that make the police more responsible and accountable,” he said.
The party has also promised to make its municipalities more attractive to investment, in an effort to create jobs. Steenhuisen said municipalities should invest early in research exploring the competitive advantages of the local economy and lean towards those sectors that exhibited the most potential for growth.
He said the DA governments will clearly communicate service-level agreements (SLAs) and turnaround times for refuse collection, burst pipes, electrical faults, potholes, and other queries lodged. “We will also link each SLA and turnaround time to the responsible political individual to ensure accountability,” Steenhuisen said.
The EFF manifesto
The EFF were next in line, with a pro-poor manifesto that relied heavily on land redistribution.
In it, the party pledges to carry out land audits to determine true land ownership, and expropriate abandoned and unused land for redistribution to landless people.
Malema said the party will develop an individual land-reform plan, outlining municipal-based land reform targets, in every municipality it governs.
“These targets will be aimed at resolving urban land hunger in urban and peri-urban municipalities, and ensuring access to land for housing, urban agriculture and black-led industrial activities. In rural municipalities, these targets will be focused on increasing agricultural production and providing land for housing,” Malema said.
Among some of the party’s more lofty plans include social grants at municipal level for indigent people, as well as free basic services, such as water and electricity, for the poor.
To curb growing costs, Malema said EFF municipalities would abolish the tender system and in-source workers, including engineers, general workers and artisans.
Malema said the party would discontinue private ownership of bulk water infrastructure, and provide access to clean water to every household, factory, farm, school and public infrastructure facility.
Malema also promised to repair and build new water treatment plants, and employ artisans to repair all leaks in water infrastructure, with the aim of reducing the amount of water lost by leaks to 10% of the current rate.
The ANC manifesto
Meanwhile, the ANC had a lot to answer to. Its manifesto, delivered by Ramaphosa, was a mixture of repentance and commitments.
The ANC president promised that his government would significantly increase the role of renewable energy through a just energy transition that creates new economic opportunities for workers and communities.
He pledged that the government would reduce the time that households wait for new electricity connections and invest in the infrastructure that municipalities need to supply homes and businesses with power.
The ANC also pledged to release more hectares of land to citizens, saying it will continue to upgrade informal settlements and change municipal zoning practices to better integrate housing, recreation facilities and economic opportunities.
Ramaphosa also promised that the ANC would continue to provide special Covid-19 grants and various support measures for workers and businesses.
Through its district development model, the government is successfully bringing all three spheres of government together to plan better, budget and monitor implementation of our programmes, he said.
Ramaphosa pledged that the party would subject all representatives and officials who fail to behave appropriately in fulfilling their roles, to disciplinary action or other corrective measures.
He added that, when necessary, people will be removed from their positions.
“Where there is evidence that a crime has been committed, the matter will be referred to law enforcement. We pledge to act speedily against officials conducting business with municipalities and against those implicated in maladministration,” Ramaphosa said.