Debate Topic: eThekwini Beyond Elections – Able Leadership and Development Prospects
NOTE: This statement is was written ahead of the Mayoral Debate in the Durban City Hall on Wednesday 20 April and published in the Mercury on 20 April.
“The DA will bring the promise of opportunity to the people of eThekwini through clean and efficient government.”
The dream which was laid before South Africa in 1994 by the father of our nation was founded on the opportunity which the new South Africa presented to its people. Opportunity would now become available to all South Africans to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Government’s role would be to expand opportunity and provide the poorest of the poor with the means to take advantage of that opportunity.
The eThekwini Metro provides a clear example of how poorly performing local governments rob people of opportunity. Corruption and the emphasis on political grandeur waste scarce public funds, cadre deployment reduces efficiency and the mismanagement of departments compromises the ability of the municipality to deliver. The bottom line is that less money is available to a less efficient council to roll out the services and infrastructure needed for opportunity to abound.
The AGSA reported that R500m of irregular expenditure occurred in the previous financial year. Remant Alton collapsed our bus service, taking millions of Rand of public funds with it. Treasury has spent R500m developing a Revenue Management System which is 5 years late and R400m over budget. In the 2010/11 financial year, council only built 8500 of the budgeted 16000 houses. The Durban Metro Police Service has a vacany rate of 48% with 1056 posts unfilled.
These are but a few of the failures of the government of the past 5 years to deliver opportunity to the people of eThekwini. A DA government in eThekwini will make the delivery of opportunity to all the cornerstone of its programme of delivery through capable leadership and a focus on the many developmental imperatives of our City.
Capable leadership is a requirement for all DA governments. The DA recognises the crucial role leadership plays in ensuring that transparency, accountability and efficiency are the foundation of effective local governments. The significant developmental challenges which face our City can only be overcome through tight and efficient expenditure of funds, developing a passion for delivery in the 22000 employees of the municipality and through an unwavering commitment to create jobs through economic growth while protecting the poorest of the poor.
A DA government in eThekwini will ensure total transparency of the council and tender process to eradicate corruption and increase the business done with emerging contractors. In the City of Cape Town, the DA introduced transparency. All Council meetings and Mayoral Committee meetings were opened to the public. So too were all meetings of the Bid Adjudication Tender Award Committee which decides all contracts between the City and outsider suppliers.
A DA government in eThekwini will ensure infrastructure and services are rolled out in an efficient and cost-effective fashion in order to provide the foundation for growing our metro economy and creating jobs. In the City of Cape Town, investment in infrastructure that benefits the public and supports the economy rose from R950m in 2004/05 to R3,1 billion in 2008 and 3,5bn in 2010/11, an increase of over 300%. The DA tripled spending on repairs and maintenance from R800m/year to R1,6bn/year.
A DA government in eThekwini will ensure that the system of housing is overhauled to rid it of corruption and dramatically increase the provision of housing. The post-2006 City of Cape Town government has built three times the number of houses its predecessor managed and rationalised the housing waiting lists to ensure the poorest benefit first and list corruption is eradicated.
A DA government in eThekwini will ensure maximum expenditure against capital budgets and infrastructure grants and ensure that debt collection is improved. From 2006, the DA increased the percentage of Cape Town’s capital budget spent from an average of 65% under the ANC to well over 80% and as high as 97% in 2008/09. The DA’s greater collection rate benefited the poor: By the end of 2007, 16% of the poorest households in Cape Town experienced an actual reduction to their municipal account.
A DA government in eThekwini will attend urgently to the desperate state of our Metro Police Service and ensure they are engaged in reducing crime and enforcing the laws of our City. In its first 100 days in Government in 2006, the DA in the City of Cape Town allocated R56.8 million to fund critical posts in the city, particularly for nurses, fire-fighters and police services.
The track record of DA governments across the country speaks for itself. Corruption has been virtually eradicated making more public funds available for developmental priorities. Well maintained and reliable infrastructure in a safer and more attractive environment along with the lower cost of doing business has meant economic growth is higher and unemployment is lower in DA-run municipalities.
The DA will bring the promise of opportunity to the people of eThekwini through clean and efficient government. The DA is the only party with a track record of delivering corruption-free governments that deliver economic growth, infrastructure and services, poverty relief and community safety. Voters can now compare this track record with that of other parties and make an informed choice who to lend their vote to for 5 years.