Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (Port Elizabeth) has become a sacrificial lamb, strapped to the altar of EFF political expediency and awaiting slaughter.
The story of this metro decisively debunks the notion that the EFF fights for the poor in SA. On the contrary, the EFF cares so little for the plight of the poor that they would remove a government that has worked incredibly hard to deliver material improvements to the lives of residents who have been neglected for years.
The EFF has called for a motion of no confidence in NMB Mayor Athol Trollip, scheduled for 29 March 2018. The reason given? According to EFF leader Julius Malema, it is "punishment" for the DA's opposition to land expropriation without compensation, and "because the mayor of PE is a white man".
He may think that in so doing, the EFF is "cutting the throat of whiteness". But the real outcome will be to hurt the poorest communities of NMB, which suffered extraordinary neglect under the ANC administration, pre-2016.
This neglect is detailed in Crispian Olver's book How to steal a city, which exposes the rot, corruption and complete state capture that hollowed out the city's administration, denying its poorest residents even the most basic of services.
In 2016, when the EFF opted to support the DA-led coalition in NMB, it was to "hold the ANC to account" for its rampant looting of this metro. That was the right thing to do. Those who abuse power ought to be held to account. Through their vote, the residents of NMB were unequivocal in their rejection of the ANC. The EFF rightly responded to their wishes.
But now, in 2018, the motivation for removing the DA-led coalition has nothing to do with voter wishes or wellbeing. It has nothing to do with the DA's performance in government and everything to do with the EFF's self-serving agenda, which is driven by racism and a desire to divide, rather than unite, our nation.
Mayor Trollip has invited Mr Malema to come to NMB and see for himself the progress this coalition has made for PE residents. In 2016, our promise to voters was to stop corruption, deliver services and create jobs, and I can proudly say that over the past nineteen months our NMB team has gone all out to do just that.
Much of our progress is visible, reflected in cleaner streets and public areas, better maintained roads, new tarred roads, better traffic management, working streetlights, rehabilitated sidewalks, refurbished sports facilities, visible metro policing, more economic activity and a general air of a city on the up.
Equally important and impactful is what Mr Malema will not immediately see if he visits PE. Multiple investigations and prosecutions are underway to recover as much as possible of the millions of rands lost to corruption. The City's revenue is greatly enhanced thanks to the now proper supply chain management, traffic fine collection and general financial controls.
Significant progress has been achieved in water loss reduction, provision of water and sanitation (including the eradication of 5000 bucket toilets), wifi connectivity in public facilities such as libraries and in fighting crime and gangsterism.
I could go on. Suffice to say that the latest Bustech survey shows that NMB Metro went from the second least trusted to the second most trusted metro in the country, in just one year of government.
The DA is governed by principle, not expedience, and we will not waiver in response to the EFF's threats. We are not taking the EFF's motion lying down either. We will mobilise a "Save NMB" campaign, and we ask everyone to sign our petition here. We also ask members of the public to let the EFF councillors and leadership know that voters and residents will not forget them handing the City back to the corrupt ANC. They will be severely punished at the polls for this decision, and they must know that up front.
If the EFF's motion succeeds, the DA will walk away with a clear conscience, knowing we did everything possible to reverse the rot and start building a capable administration that really brings material benefits to the people of NMB. We literally followed the manual for How to save a city. At least in the next local elections in 2021, there is a clear choice for voters: their city can be saved, stolen or sabotaged.
SA's salvation will be a realignment of politics, in which people and political parties come together around shared values and principles. The notion of political parties based on group identity (black, white, Christian etc.) undermines the very principle of democracy, which is to advance certain values (the rule of law, the independence of institutions, individual freedoms etc.), not to advance certain groups.
In SA today, we are seeing a realignment in which the EFF are re-entering the ANC, through the resolutions they passed while they were still the youth wing of the ANC. Those who voted for the EFF should realise they voted for the ANC.
Parties that stand for non-racialism, constitutionalism, the rule of law, a market driven economy, and a capable state that focuses on service delivery, must stand together. We may not have sufficient numbers yet, but we are working to achieve this vision. Because most South Africans truly support these values. And because the future of SA is still coalitions, and we cannot allow racist Malema to jeopardise that future.
- Maimane is leader of the Democratic Alliance.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.