Fred Nel MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Local Government Deputy Spokesperson for Roads and Transport
The inclusion into Gauteng of Dipaleseng Municipality, which includes Balfour, is being actively promoted by the Gauteng Local Government department despite the potential consequences such a move may have.
In the Department’s Annual Performance Plan, their strategy for the 2012/13 financial year, it is indicated that the Department will actively work towards including Balfour into Gauteng. It also lists the steps it would undertake to achieve such an inclusion, including a change to the South African Constitution.
Balfour is currently situated in Mpumalanga and has been plagued by many service delivery protests over the past few years. In response to a question I posed in the Gauteng Legislature to the MEC for Local Government and Housing, Humphrey Mmemezi, he indicated that it would cost billions of Rand to upgrade the infrastructure in Balfour in order to address service delivery backlogs.
It is therefore strange that the Department would want to persist with the inclusion of Balfour into Gauteng. This could also set a dangerous precedent as various towns around Gauteng may want to follow suit to escape from under-performing provinces.
The inclusion of Balfour into Gauteng will not just impact the province and increase the pressure on its already stretched budget; it will also have a negative impact on the residents of Balfour. They will in all probability be included in the Ekurhuleni Metro which has much higher property and services rates than Balfour. These residents would therefore experience increases in their municipal tariffs amounting to hundreds, even thousands of percent, as was the experience for residents in Kungwini and Nokeng Tsa Taemane when their municipalities were merged with the Tshwane Metro.
The inclusion of Balfour will promote urban sprawl in Gauteng and it will place additional pressure on the province’s ageing infrastructure and limited budget. The Democratic Alliance will oppose such a move.