On January 16, just before the council sitting in Tshwane that once again collapsed into anarchy and delinquency, we received a memorandum from luminaries such as Ntate Tlou Cholo, Dr Abe Nkomo, Dr Sam Motsuenyane, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa and other prominent people representing traditional leaders, the religious sector and the business community, expressing concern about the collapse of governance and service delivery in the City of Tshwane.
The memorandum stated that “the current state of political paralysis increasingly threatens democratic governance in Tshwane” and appealed to us to find “lasting solutions to governance and leadership problems in Tshwane”.
The memorandum reminded us of the constitutional objectives of local government, which is to provide democratic and accountable government, ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner, promote a safe and healthy environment and encourage the involvement of communities and community participation in matters of local government.
These are things which the municipality had been clearly failing to do, with the water crisis creating an unhealthy living environment as the SA Human Rights Commission has stated, allegations of maladministration and corruption being rampant and the absence of ward committees compromising the right of communities to participate in matters of local government.
The memorandum appealed to all political parties and council leaders to ensure that their engagements contribute to good governance and are in the best interests of citizens, and to respect the rights of the most vulnerable, citing those affected by the water crisis in Hammanskraal as a pertinent example.
Finally, the memorandum lamented the increasing allegations of corruption in the municipality, the deteriorating levels of service delivery such as failure to collect rubbish and the failure to implement the Auditor-General’s recommendations, and implored us to act with speed and urgency to bring about the “immediate normalisation of governance within the municipal council”.
Contrast this assessment of the state of Tshwane municipality with that of the DA’s Gauteng caucus leader, who claimed in a statement released on January 21 that “Tshwane is delivering, is governed well and is financially stable”.
Talk about being delusional and out of touch with reality. Is this the same perspective that you would get if you were to solicit the opinion of the people of Mamelodi or Hammanskraal on how Tshwane was being run? Who would you say is more credible?
Contrary to the narrative being driven by the DA, that we were guilty of “interfering” in the City of Tshwane and of “bullying”, our interactions with the City of Tshwane, along with those of previous MECs before us, are well documented, and current Section 139(1) (c) intervention has been informed by the fact that we have been aware of all these concerns that were raised by this group of concerned citizens.
In line with our constitutional responsibilities, as the primary custodians of local government and, by default, service delivery in the province, we dared not stand aside and “fiddle while Rome burns”, as the cliché goes, as one of our key metros as a province was falling apart.
So, considering the facts established, it appears that contrary to what they are accusing us of, it is the DA that is in fact guilty of political posturing and playing partisan political games while ordinary citizens suffer. It is the DA, through the conduct of its speaker in council, that has been guilty of subverting democracy and compromising service delivery.
- Maile is the Gauteng MEC for human settlements, urban planning, co-operative governance and traditional affairs
OPINION: Lebogang Maile