The city of Johannesburg was submerged by a black cloud. Poor governance, unethical behavior and corruption are the order of the day in the corridors of power.
During my listening tours, I have personally seen how corrupt practices destroy lives and livelihoods. For example, instead of putting in place proper sanitation infrastructure in Kliptown, Soweto, residents were unfairly forced to use portable chemical toilets at a high cost to taxpayers continuously for many years.
South Africa has passed the quarter-century mark since the end of apartheid and the start of its democracy in 1994, and thanks to the incompetence and corruption of the ANC government, the of services to citizens has become a mirage. As a result, service delivery protests have become a regular occurrence; people said enough is enough. People could no longer be deceived or subjected to a persistent violation of their basic human rights.
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Communities are raising their voices on issues such as access to electricity, housing, water and sanitation, health and social security – nothing out of the ordinary.
We must mend the shattered city and give what the people of Johannesburg deserve.
The city of Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a mega-city, and one of the 100 largest urban areas in the world. We can’t just drop it like that.
Imagine a city of gold that shines again; a city of opportunity; a smart city for the next smart generation. It is the most powerful commercial center on the African continent. It generates 16% of South Africa’s GDP and employs 12% of the national workforce.
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It should be led by knowledgeable, professional and experienced quality leaders with a proven track record, leaders such as the DA.
The DA is the only party to have a proven track record of integrity and honesty in government. Over the past decades, we know what has stood in the way of progress and economic inclusion.
There are long-standing inequalities that have their roots in apartheid and our colonial past, and which have been exacerbated by an incapable, captured and corrupt state.
The main drivers of inequality of opportunity in South Africa are well established. These include a failed deployment of state and cadres that the president admitted during his appearance before the Zondo commission. The deployment of executives brought on its train the sickening stench of tender entrepreneurs, those costumed thugs who are bleeding the city of Johannesburg.
South Africa’s best-run province, best-run metro and South Africa’s five best-run municipalities are all regulated by the DA, according to independent rating bodies.
This is of course not an opportunity to record the achievements of the municipalities led by the AD. However, we have to show why we deserve to lead this city.
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In no time, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, led by the DA, actively resolved the backlog of many years of incompetent neglect by the ANC. A turnaround would surely take more than three years? The mess and the rottenness were too ingrained. But we have started to change a lot.
In my portfolio alone, as a member of the municipal committee for health and social development, we have extended our service to 27 clinics; we reopened six clinics; we have established five drug treatment centers; We have deployed 10 mobile clinics in service areas that did not have facilities, to name just a few of our accomplishments.
We did simple things in three years that had been neglected in the previous 25 years.
A short walk from the city of Johannesburg is Midvaal, run by the DA, the only municipality in Gauteng where the DA rules with a full mandate. This is where you see the real difference, where citizens have enjoyed a decade of people-centered municipal delivery, where public money is spent on the public and not on corrupt officials and their cronies.
Midvaal has seven consecutive years of clean audits to prove. Investor confidence is at an all-time high. It’s a well-oiled machine.
And then you go back to Johannesburg and you wonder if you are still in the same province, the same country.
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More than two decades of political freedom have not resulted in an adequate improvement in the socio-economic prospects of the majority of our people. The social stability and progress of our country depends on the urgent promotion of economic inclusion for the millions of people who remain excluded from the economy due to historical injustices committed on the basis of race.
The more elections there were, the more promises were made. There is nothing more painful than broken promises justified by authoritarian arrogance.
Mpho Phalatsé. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
The more things “changed” in the city of Johannesburg under the ruling party, the more they stayed the same. The days of gastric policy and food packages are over. The work ahead is colossal. Our people expect us to create jobs for them and not hand them food packages.
Our entrepreneurs expect us to create an environment conducive to the development of their businesses. The government can do this by simply cutting red tape and removing gatekeepers and other barriers to running businesses large and small.
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Meeting these challenges requires a holistic approach to society. It requires government, businesses, communities, families and individuals to work together to overcome them.
One of the most powerful ways for government to amplify its impact is to leverage private sector participation through procurement; that is, in the way it selects the companies with which it chooses to do business.
Where competing companies can provide goods or services at the same level of functionality and price, this policy would give due consideration to those companies which have the most positive socio-economic impact as measured by the Sustainable Development Goals.
No self-respecting nation can continue to allow the culture and history of patronage and kakistocracy to triumph over ethics and professional standards.
One of our priorities is for competence to be a priority where we operate. When it comes to procurement, we will be fair, transparent and deserving SMMEs will have the opportunity to operate.
We will do our due diligence to support companies that deliver projects on time and on budget, unlike the current standard where there is no delivery. There are many unfulfilled or poorly executed contracts, and they hurt our people who depend the most on government services.
Poverty is man-made and must be dismantled with all its might from its root canal. We will end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
The city of Johannesburg is not poor. It has a huge budget which, if well spent, can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Let’s build a lean and capable state based on liberal democratic principles.
Phalatse is Johannesburg City Council Councilor and DA Mayoral Candidate