OPINION

Five municipalities, five success stories – Mmusi Maimane

Party leader sets out his party's achievements in local govts outside the metros

DA local municipalities celebrate two years in government

13 August 2018

In 2016, South Africans entrusted the DA with governing more than 30 municipalities across the country. The five DA local governments that are being highlighted today shine a bright light on the extra-ordinary work that continues to happen in these many DA-led municipalities throughout the country. The overwhelming record of DA governed local councils is that where we govern, service improves, corruption is rooted out, the economy grows, jobs are created, and basic delivery for poorer residents improves. This is the DA difference.

Drakenstein, Midvaal, Kouga, Modimolle-Mookgophong and Thabazimbi are five councils that provide a representative sample of the difference the DA is making in government wherever we are elected.

The DA does not take the trust placed in us by the residents of these five municipalities for granted. We highly value every opportunity we are given to demonstrate the DA difference in action. Local government responsibility is the closest link between a government and its people and after years of financial mismanagement, corruption and neglect by the ANC, the DA got hard to work repairing this broken bond.

Previous ANC administrations left behind a sea of debt. Drakenstein, Midvaal, Kouga, Modimolle-Mookgophong and Thabazimbi are an inspirational story of DA governments that turned financial wastelands into thriving local towns for all South Africans.

The DA currently governs for over 16 million South Africans and controls the majority of the country’s local government budget. We continue to work hard to deliver on our promises of clean, efficient governments which deliver to the people we serve.

Drakenstein

Out of 257 municipalities in South Africa and responsible for an almost R3 billion budget, Drakenstein manages the ninth biggest budget and has been recognised as the 17th best municipality in the country. Having been voted into office in the past two municipal elections, this DA municipality has received clean audits for the last four consecutive years and boasts a joint-top financial position out of all municipalities in the country that is higher than any of the eight Metro governments.

Of the more than a quarter million people who call Drakenstein home, only 18.3% are unemployed which is almost 10% lower than the national average. 2 024 jobs were created this year by improved Expanded Public Work Programmes (EPWP) and more opportunities have been created through a Community Work Programme (CWP), on the job training such as the Imperial Cargo matriculant employment programme, business hives and informal trading areas that offer an enabling environment for budding entrepreneurs and a youth employment programme that has partnered with the private sector to build skills for the future.

The launch of the Drakenstein Smart Safety Network (DSSN) means that there is now networking and co-ordination between the municipality, Neighbourhood Watches, Farm Watches, Security Firms and the South African Police Service (SAPS), a central control room that makes use of smart technology to keep citizens safe and a roll out of CCTV cameras. ‘Bobbies on the beat’ is an EPWP programme that maintains visible bylaw enforcement, and there are a dozen neighbourhood watches in historically underdeveloped wards.

Midvaal

Midvaal’s financial sustainability has increased from a score of 60 to 68 (out of a maximum possible of 100), which is more than double the provincial average and the highest score for any municipality in Gauteng. The local government has already achieved more than three quarters of their departments’ 55 Key Performance Areas and reached a 94% financial collection rate this year.

In 2016, this DA government launched the Kgatelopele Youth Development Programme and in almost two years, the programme has recruited more than 200 candidates with half already graduates. The municipality is even partnering with youth-owned businesses and believe in the Kgatelopele participants enough to procure R30 million in goods and services from them by 2021.

The municipality is focussing on the township economy as a centre for job-creation through the development of Economic Development Centres (EDC’s). These specialised township-based manufacturing hubs will be situated in five of Midvaal’s biggest townships – Mamello, Lakeside, Kliprivier, Savanna City and Sicello.

Kouga

When the DA was voted into office in 2016, we found more than 1 700 title deeds for RDP houses lying around in store rooms and offices, some dating back more than 15 years. The late Mayor, Elza van Lingen, distributed 202 of these title deeds at Thornhill on Human Rights Day, her successor, Mayor Horatio Hendricks, handed out a further 631 title deeds at Kruisfontein, Humansdorp, on Nelson Mandela Day, and the remainder will be distributed at Sea Vista, KwaNomzamo, Patensie, Hankey, Pellsrus and Thornhill over the next two months.

DA-led Kouga has strengthened its financial position and now has sufficient revenue to increase grant funding, boost capital delivery and drive a pro-poor budget. By cutting corruption and waste, and restoring public faith in the local council, this municipality has almost tripled its cash on hand from R38 million to R94 million in the past two years.

The previous ANC-led municipality had failed to pay mandatory contributions to the Department of Labour for ten years which meant that staff were not covered for injuries on duty. The DA-led government cleaned up this ANC mess and Kouga has since been issued with a letter of good standing from the Department of Labour.

Modimolle-Mookgophong

Modimolle-Mookgophong inherited more than R300 million rand in debt and no cash flow from the previous ANC government. And in the midst of the worst drought in recent history, the dam supplying Modimolle with half of its water was empty and the council had severe backlogs in infrastructure and service delivery.

But the newly formed Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality has recently begun a formal forensic investigation into the municipality’s finances. The team, with support from National Treasury, are focussing on a list of creditors, monies paid out without references and the mismanagement of conditional grant money.

The municipality has prioritised water resilience and invested more than R30 million rand into water projects over the past two years which has been used to build three 3.3 megalitre reservoirs in Vaalwater, Modimolle and Alma. The supply of drinking water is now more consistent and safe because the government has replaced more than 15 kilometres of new pipeline, refurbished the entire Welgevonden dam floating raft and pump station and drilled 20 new boreholes to augment the water supply.

Thabazimbi

The DA coalition government in Thabazimbi Local Municipality (TLM) started their first day in office with the sheriff carrying out all office equipment and a fleet of vehicles, to settle debts run up by the former ANC administration. More than R450 million in debt and over 100 legal cases needed to be settled and the municipality’s salary budget had nearly doubled due to the illegal placement of staff.

The new DA leadership immediately got to work and within a fortnight, the offices were operational and office furniture, computers, telephones and emergency arrangements enabled the running of essential services. For the first time in seven years, billings and valuations were rectified, which has gone a long way in helping stabilise the municipality’s finances.

Only 54 of the 100 legal cases remain and in the past year alone, R66.9 million of the previous administration’s debt has been cleared with Eskom, and continued pressure has ensured that the Special Investigation Unit’s report into maladministration and corruption at TLM will soon be delivered.  The successful passing of the local government’s 2018/19 budget and IDP is another positive marker of a DA-led government that has turned around a bankrupt municipality into a clean government.

Conclusion

The turnaround stories in these five councils are just a sample of how the DA has turned the debt, rot, corruption and collapsed delivery that we inherited from the ANC into clean municipalities that work.

The bond of trust that was destroyed by the previous ANC local governments with the people of these local councils has been restored by these DA governments.

The experiences of all who call these municipalities home will attest to the DA difference. There are still many profound challenges that remain, and a huge amount of work to do. In some cases, it will take years to repair what has been systematically broken or stolen over decades.

We are the party that governs best in South Africa with a proven track record that speaks for itself. Our increased support in recent by-elections across the country is demonstrative of this.

Residents in DA-governed councils can live with the peace of mind that money is being spent properly, services are steadily improving, towns are cleaner, safer and healthier. Step by step, things are improving where the DA governs.

Because DA local governments deliver. And it is this DA difference that we celebrate today.

Issued by Mmusi MaimaneLeader of the Democratic Alliance, 13 August 2018