Jack Bloom MPL
Note: Below is an extract from the speech delivered by Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Provincial Legislature Caucus Leader, during today’s debate on the crisis in Bekkersdal.
The roots of the current conflict go back a long time. Bekkersdal is a case study of why the ANC fails to deliver because of typical mismanagement and corruption.
It also shows once again why the Premier deserves the title of “Queen of empty promises”.
When the e Premier was Housing MEC she promised in 2007 to deal with corrupt practices in the area “without mercy”.
She said that residents needed to be patient, telling them that “if delivery has not happened in your area, it will happen as soon as it did in other areas”.
In July 2007 she said that the Urban Renewal Programme in Bekkersdal was “on track” and that “drastic measures” were being taken to improve service delivery.
Well, these drastic measures don’t seem to have been successful. As Abraham Lincoln once said “You can’t fool all the people all the time”.
In Bekkersdal, the chickens have come home to roost.
The Bekkersdal Renewal Project was launched by Premier Mbhazima Shilowa in 2004 as a Presidential Lead Project, with a budgeted cost of R1.2 billion.
People in Bekkersdal are right to ask what happened to all the huge amounts of money that has been spent with so little result.
Roads are still not tarred, the brick-making centre is incomplete, sewage runs in the streets, the multi-purpose centre is not operational, and other promised projects have not happened either.
The reality is that delivery is compromised because of crony tenders that don’t deliver.
We find mention in the Resolve Group investigation into allegations against Mr Sibusiso Buthelezi, the former head of public works, that he was close friends with Mr Stan Thusini, the Managing Director of the Powerhouse Consortium that did the project management for Bekkersdal.
This company was also paid R2.85 million for work given without tender on the very fishy Soweto monorail project promoted by Paul Mashatile that was cancelled by the national transport minister.
There are other suspicious tenders in the hopeless Westonaria council where this provincial government should have intervened far earlier.
Instead of looking in a mirror and blaming herself, the Premier insults the people of Bekkersdal by saying she doesn’t want their “dirty votes”.
This is typical ANC arrogance. What is really dirty is the jobs for pals and rampant looting of state resources that leads to violent service delivery protests when all other appeals fail.
There have been plenty of petitions and memorandums calling attention to the problems in Bekkersdal, but this is a government that will not listen
The way forward is to engage honestly with the people of Bekkersdal.
The allegations of corruption against the Westonaria council must be investigated speedily and not swept under the carpet.
If political friends are implicated, then they must be criminally prosecuted and not allowed to get away in the usual manner by leaving with a golden handshake.
Merging Westonaria with Randfontein will solve nothing if the management rot is not cut away drastically.
The people of Bekkersdal deserve better. They have the opportunity in the elections next year to choose a different party that has shown that where it governs, it governs well in the interests of all the people.