Gauteng deserves better than Makhura

2018-06-17 12:26
David Makhura (Cornel van Heerden, Netwerk24)

David Makhura (Cornel van Heerden, Netwerk24)

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‘No municipality will collapse under my watch,” Gauteng Premier David Makhura (pictured) said when confirming that Emfuleni Local Municipality had been placed under administration this week.

The municipality has a dismal record when it comes to providing basic services to its residents, and paying its debt to Eskom and Rand Water. Makhura’s statement suggests that Emfuleni has not collapsed yet, but is merely on its way to a state of collapse.

One needs to drive around the towns and townships of Emfuleni to see the real state of the municipality. Rubbish lies uncollected, posing a health risk to the residents, especially children; the grass is not cut; roads are so full of potholes that drivers are now driving on the pavements to avoid the road; and water and electricity supply to the residents has been cut off or interrupted several times since the beginning of the year.

This is a municipality that has long since collapsed. Even the appointment of Jacob Khawe as mayor late last year did very little to stop the complete decline of the municipality.

The premier says that no municipality will collapse under his watch, but Emfuleni has effectively done just that. The premier has known about the municipality’s imminent collapse since at least 2015, when my DA colleagues in the legislature started raising the issue. Makhura chose instead to protect the then mayor of Emfuleni, Simon Mofokeng.

The Emfuleni municipality’s collapse did not happen overnight – it has been years in the making. ANC comrades have been helping themselves to the funds that are supposed to be used to deliver basic services to the residents of Emfuleni, and they did so knowing that the provincial government would do nothing.

To this day, no one has been held responsible for the state of Emfuleni municipality – not by the municipality itself or the ANC as a governing party. No single official is facing criminal charges for stealing from the municipality, yet we have a premier who fashions himself as a “corruption buster” and “Mr Action”, but all he does is protect ANC comrades instead of putting the interests of the residents first.

Since I was asked to be the spokesperson of the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs portfolio for the DA, I have been raising the issue of our local municipalities’ ability to deliver services and pay Eskom and Rand Water. Each time these matters are raised, the ANC colleagues in the legislature look less than interested in the state of affairs of the local municipalities.

Emfuleni is not the only one that has collapsed or is on its way there – Merafong and Rand West are in the same WhatsApp group and they are collapsing on the premier’s watch. The premier and the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs will again take their time in helping the municipality and its residents.

The premier is known for taking his time or pretending not to know about an issue before he acts. He adopted the same strategy when it came to the loss of lives of the mentally ill patients who were moved from Life Esidimeni under his watch, when he again claimed to not know anything. He “apologised” for not knowing, even when it was pointed out to him that he was in the legislature when the matter was first raised.

In the four years that Makhura has been in office, he has been all talk and no real action. The only action he has taken is to protect ANC comrades from accountability.

Gauteng deserves a premier who will put the interests of its people first; a premier who will not be scared to criminally prosecute officials and politicians who steal from the public purse and deprive our residents, especially the poor, of much-needed services.

With the Emfuleni saga, I am more than convinced that Makhura and the ANC will do nothing to take the province of Gauteng forwards.

Change is needed in Gauteng, change that will transform the lives of our people, making them prosperous.

- Gana is a member of the Gauteng legislature

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