James Masango, MP,
Welcome to the first edition of the Democratic Alliance News Letter in Mpumalanga.
The letter will focus on different issues in the province coupled with those of national interest that affects us all.
This month our focus is on the amalgamation of municipalities in Mpumalanga which has been dominating the news.
The ruling party believes that amalgamating some municipalities could better service delivery. This is yet to be proven.
In the year 2000 smaller municipalities were amalgamated with the hope that there will be better service delivery since the revenue for some municipalities was too little to
better service delivery in the previously disadvantaged communities. If amalgamation improves service delivery, then WHY since 2000, has the delivery of services not
improved in these municipalities?
I am talking about municipalities like Ogies with Witbank, Hendrina with Middelburg, Nelspruit with Hazyview and White River and many more.
The purpose of establishing municipalities was to bring government closer to the people and that municipalities will be the face of government.
In South Africa, we also have the so-called district municipalities that should assist local municipalities with capacity and bulk service deliveries. As the DA, we have been on
record saying do away with district municipalities as they are of no assistance to government and the people of South Africa. These district municipalities are just used as an
employment agency for ANC cadres.
What is worse is that the ANC plans to create sub-district municipalities, how will this help our communities?
The ANC must learn simple mathematics that adding two negatives will always give you a negative answer and not a positive sum, which means bringing together two
dysfunctional municipalities, will create a worse off municipality.
This might just be another strategy for the ruling party to garner votes for next year’s local government elections as they are losing voters and it seems that the only other
way to cling onto power is through amalgamating smaller municipalities with bigger ones.
The DA is completely against such a move as this will not bring better service delivery to our communities. What we need in our municipalities is, people with the correct skills
to be employed in the right positions. The ANC must stop cadre deployment. Fraud and corruption takes away money meant for service delivery to the poor people.
The DA in the province has written a letter to the Municipal Demarcation Board formally objecting to the amalgamation of municipalities in Mpumalanga.
Here are more reasons why the DA does not support the amalgamation:
- The distances between the municipalities are too vast and the geographical size of the municipality will be unmanageable. As consequence, towns located far from
the municipal ‘seat of government’, are bound to be neglected when it comes to service delivery. The proposed amalgamation of Lekwa and Dipaliseng is but one
example. The people of Balfour, which is in Dipaliseng, are fighting to be incorporated into Heidelberg (Gauteng) which is less than 30km away. This does not make
logical sense based on the above mentioned reasons. However government still insists on amalgamating them with Lekwa in Standerton (Mpumalanga), which is even
further than the proposed amalgamation (60km away.)
- It will also be unsustainable to amalgamate a financially unstable municipality with one that is financially stable. One such example – is the proposed amalgamation of
Mbombela in Nelspruit and Umjindi (Barberton) local municipalities. According to the 2013/2014 annual report for Mbombela, the municipality has failed to achieve any
of its targets with regard to service delivery standards as set out in the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan, while Umjindi is financially stable.
The DA has written a formal letter to the demarcation board not to consider these proposed amalgamations. This comes after violent protests in Dipaliseng municipality earlier this
month. These protests might increase as residents feel they are not heard.
The DA does not condone violent protests, but sympathises with these communities. Through our deliberations with communities we have been requested to ask the MDB to reject
the request for amalgamation in any municipality in Mpumalanga.
The DA therefore request the MDB to refrain from amalgamating municipalities in the province. We believe that this will not be beneficial to the residents.