Democratic Alliance (Cape Town)

South Africa: What the DA Found, and How We Turned It Around

press release

The DA has governed Tlokwe/Potchefstroom for just under three months, after the ANC fired its own Mayor, Mapethle Mapethle, through a vote of no confidence. The DA's Professor Annette Combrink was then elected Mayor by a majority of one vote.

On Tuesday, under instruction from President Jacob Zuma and ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, the ANC will try to wrest Tlokwe back, without following the proper processes. It is crucial for the DA to remain in office if we are to untangle the web of financial mismanagement that had taken place there under the ANC.

Today I visited Ikageng (in the Tlokwe/Potchefstroom municipality) to see DA delivery first-hand - what we found, and how we turned it around.

Under the ANC, residents became used to poor or non-existent service delivery.

For example, 100 Community Residential Units were built in Ikageng last August. They were opened to much fanfare, even Minister Sexwale came to Tlokwe to hand them over to expectant community members. However, the flats were uninhabitable - they were built without any connections to water or sewerage networks.

When the ANC was in government they failed to hand the flats over to beneficiaries. As a result the flats have been vandalised and were already in need of significant repair work.

Today I witnessed how the DA-run Tlokwe has turned this around. All 100 of these flats are being connected to water and sewerage networks and the necessary repairs are being made. The flats will be habitable soon, and finally the beneficiaries - who have been forced to look at these empty flats for months - will be able to move in.

The flats will soon be handed over to residents on the councils housing waiting list as a demonstration of how the DA is delivering in Tlokwe.

Walking through the streets of Ikageng, I met residents who told me they could feel the improvement in delivery since the DA took office.

Many of these residents told me that they are excited to vote DA for the first time in the next municipal elections.

Parts of Ikageng have long been used as illegal dumping sites under the ANC. This has created unsafe living conditions for residents.

I was able to see first-hand how a massive clean-up campaign in Tlokwe, led by the DA, has for the first time cleaned these dumping sites.

Residents now live in a cleaner, safer environment - that is the DA difference.

Our Mayor has also presented me with a report on numerous other delivery initiatives the DA is driving in Tlokwe, including:

· A Municipal Infrastructure Grant Unit is being established for the first time to speed up the application and transfer process for national grants, ensuring that none of these grants go unspent. This will speed up the roll-out of basic services to residents.

· Urgently needed repairs were carried out to the city's fire fighting vehicles, to allow them to function properly. Before this, several fire fighting vehicles were standing idle, unable to carry out their crucial work - especially in Ikageng, where fires spread rapidly.

· The DA refused to accept that R736 000 in public money was spent on a new mayoral car that was ordered by the former mayor. The new Mercedes Benz E-class with customised rose wood interior was delivered to the council, because it was too late to stop the order, but we have referred this purchase to the auditor general for investigation, and to see if it is possible to recover any or all of the cost.

· 30 entrepreneurs are being trained in small business management in partnership with the North West University, to provide an urgently needed injection for youth entrepreneurism in the city

· Long standing vacancies in key front line service delivery positions in the municipality. During our time in office over 80 vacancies will be advertised, with some already being filled. This will improve Tlokwe's ability to deliver to residents.

· A total of 63 financial irregularities incurred by the ANC and identified by the Auditor General are being individually and systematically addressed by the DA, so that Tlokwe can move closer towards a clean and unqualified audit report in the future.

· Under the ANC residents were subjected to a mayor who thought it was acceptable to buy a R736 000 Mercedes Benz with public money while basic service delivery suffered.

Under the ANC, R143 million was irregularly spent last year alone, and a further R152 million was spent without proper authorization.

This type of mismanagement does not happen where the DA governs, and it would never occur in a DA governed Tlokwe.

While the DA may continue to govern in Tlokwe for only a few days more, we can be proud that we have made major strides in making this a more delivery-focused municipality. Come 2014, every voter in Tlokwe and elsewhere will be asking: If this is what the DA did with just three months in government, imagine what they could do with five years.

The turnaround in Tlokwe over the past few months is living proof that, where we govern, the DA delivers for all.

Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance

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