DA Deputy Chairperson: West Rand Region:
The proposed merger of the Randfontein, Westonaria, Mogale City and Merafong local municipalities into a single metropolitan municipality will have a detrimental impact on the lives of its residents.
In January 2015, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Pravin Gordhan, called on the Municipal Demarcation board to initiate the process of forming the merger.
Should the MDB continue with and complete the merger, wards – which are already under-serviced in the West Rand, will become much larger.
Spatial distance already poses a problem to service delivery, and should the merger go through, residents will have little or no access to their elected representatives.
Research indicates clearly that in almost all cases where a Metro has been established, the costs of services to residents have risen, and the quality of service delivery has markedly declined.
This drastic proposal is an attempt to cover up for the poor state of local government.
All four municipalities, specifically the two most dysfunctional – Westonaria and Merafong, have received qualified reports from the Auditor-General and have recently been investigated for corruption.
Coupled with this, the largest municipality in the West Rand, Mogale City, has repeatedly failed to spend its municipal infrastructure grant which it receives from national government for infrastructure development.
Due to mismanagement and underperformance, this grant has been revoked.
It is clear that the ANC’s efforts to address municipal incompetence by establishing a Metro in the West Rand is a blatant effort to manipulate borders of voting districts in a desperate attempt to cling to power– and has nothing to do with the wellbeing of residents.
Results from the 2014 national and provincial elections showed the ANC in Gauteng on the decline.
By merging these municipalities, the ANC is attempting to dilute opposition support by circumventing the ballot box – as it is highly possible that Mogale City will become another DA-run municipality in Gauteng.
The process to re-evaluate the external boundaries of municipalities normally takes 2 to 3 years.
This proposal from the ANC, only 17 months prior to the next local government election, places our democracy in a very precarious situation.
The creation of a Metro will not create more jobs in the private sector, increase service delivery, nor encourage economic development in the West Rand.
It will not change the lives of residents of the West Rand.
In fact, the situation is likely to worsen if the Municipal Demarcation Board is bullied by the ANC into accepting this proposal.