Strong support for new West Rand metro

2015-07-21 14:45
Members of the public attend the Municipal Demarcation Board meeting. (Adam Wakefield, News24)

Members of the public attend the Municipal Demarcation Board meeting. (Adam Wakefield, News24)

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Randfontein - The proposed merger of local West Rand municipalities into a metropolitan area received a great deal of support at a public meeting in Randfontein on Tuesday.

The meeting, called by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to discuss the merger with local stakeholders, had a noticeably political overtone, with most speakers clearly aligned to one party or another.

Approximately 300 people attended the meeting that was held in a hall next to the municipal offices.

Those speakers who identified themselves as being aligned with the ANC and its alliance partners were in favour of the merger, while those associated with the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People, representing a minority, opposed it.

Among the small number of people who were not aligned one way or the other, most supported the creation of a West Rand metro.

10 000 objections - DA

Mpumi Mpofu, an MDB board member, stressed the importance of the meetings, as the board had only received two written submissions on the proposed merger.

Evert du Plessis, a councillor for the DA in Randfontein, disputed this, saying the party had submitted 10 000 objections to the merger to the MDB.

Mpofu confirmed that the board had received the objections but that it considered them a single "consolidated" submission.

"It had 10 000 signatories. We would consider the weight of it having 10 000, but it's one submission. It is not nullifying the 10 000," she said.

Once those present were given a chance to address the hall, West Rand District Municipality executive Mayor Mpho Nawa said the merger would benefit the area's residents because it would eliminate duplication in government.

Metro ‘would offer more opportunities’

Jeje Legoete, the chief whip on the municipal council and aligned to the ANC, told the crowd that a metro would offer more opportunities for investment and economic development.

She said Randfontein was in many ways already a larger municipality in the public's mind, because many people from Westonaria came to Randfontein to do their shopping and municipal paperwork.

However, a DA councillor warned the room that were a merger to take place, the new metro would be inheriting a total debt in excess of R1bn from its constituent parts, and rates would rise as a result.

Melinda du Plessis, a former councillor who defected from the now defunct New National Party to the ANC in 2004, told the hall they were paying for five different sets of councillors in the different municipalities.

"All these councillors are costing us ratepayers' money. Yes, [the councillors] argue against it because some of them won't come back, because we are voting for one council," she said to cheers from some in the audience.

"Who says the old system is a workable system? We need transformation and I move for a metro."

Several other meetings on the issue are planned for other affected areas later this week.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  johannesburg  |  local government  |  service delivery

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