Pretoria - Outgoing Tshwane Mayor Sputla Ramokgopa has used his end-of-term speech ahead of the August 3 local government elections to rubbish service delivery promises by opposition parties.
Speaking to a small but supportive audience at Freedom Park in Tshwane at a breakfast on Tuesday, he listed figures of service delivery, including the City spending R4bn on infrastructure since 2011.
Referring to promises made by opposition parties he did not name, he said tarring all the metro’s roads and providing a clinic in every ward would be impossible.
He said the metro had 9 624 km of road, of which two-thirds were tarred. This left more than 3 000 km untarred, and at, R7m per kilometre, "it will be very costly to extinguish the backlog", he said.
"Those who are making promises, we will forgive them. It is enormously difficult," he said.
Ramokgopa also hit out at opposition parties who were promising a clinic in every ward.
"I saw one of the posters of the pretenders who want to run Tshwane, saying 'one ward one clinic'. What sort of society do you want? Must be a very sick society," he joked, to applause and laughter.
"People don’t have an appreciation that to put (up) a decent health care structure like a clinic, you need to invest R50m. We have 117 wards, that is the amount of money you need to roll out," he said.
A clinic in every ward has been one of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ election promises.
Speaking of industrial development parks, Ramokgopa, to loud applause, said he hoped the city would continue to be led by the African National Congress so that this work could be continued.
He said capital projects should not just be done in areas that were already affluent, because this reinforced inequalities. He said he "won’t mention what city" it was that applied this policy, but it was clear that he was referring to the Democratic Alliance-led City of Cape Town.
In contrast, Ramokgopa said Tshwane spent 85% of its money in poor areas to make a difference to the quality of people’s lives.
"There are things that are not revealed by numbers until we have a proper conversation," he said.
"It is one thing to run through a laundry list all the things we have done, but the ultimate is the measure of the impact we have made on people’s lives," he said.
Ramokgopa said: "People know who their dependable servants are and who will work with them for a better life for all."
He said - to a standing ovation - that in a few days his service to the metro would be over, but the memories, lessons learnt and achievements "will stay with me as long as I live".
Ramokgopa was not nominated again by the ANC to stand as its mayoral candidate, and will instead be replaced by Thoko Didiza should the party win the metro. The party’s announcement of her candidature led to massive protests and violence.
ANC support has been falling in the metro and there are fears within the party that a coalition of opposition parties could take over.
Asked what voters should keep in mind when they go to the polls on August 3, he said: "We must insulate ourselves from the national".
He said voters should be clear on what their local government could and could not do.
Without overtly referring to the EFF, he said: "I’ve heard others saying we are going to expropriate land. That is a function of national government. We can’t expropriate land. Fight that battle somewhere else.
"And then you hear people saying clinics must open 24 hours, so you must have nurses and doctors. Where are you going to get that money?" he asked.
He said the money for city clinics was raised by the city itself, which meant the tariff structure had to be increased, which would put more pressure on households already under distress.
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