West Rand metro: Minister Gordhan succumbs to internal ANC pressure

By Solly Msimanga MPL, DA Gauteng Provincial Chairperson:

Cooperative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan’ sudden turnaround on the merger of four West Rand municipalities into a single metropolitan area is not based on the needs of the people, but to placate provincial ANC interests.

In its latest circular, the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) refers to a letter from the minister requesting that after consultations with Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Jacob Mamabolo, the Mogale, Randfontein, Westonaria and Merafong municipalities be merged into a single metropolitan municipality.

Click here to view the circular.

While the minister does not provide any further explanation, pre-emptive moves by the provincial ANC, such as past statements by MEC Mamabolo in the Legislature, the appointment of a “change manager” to manage the merger, and media statements by the West Rand and Gauteng ANC welcoming a proposed merger, are clear indications that vested ANC interests are at play.

The DA opposition to the proposed merger is a matter of record, based on the premise that the area in question does not comply with requirements as set down by legislation, such as high population densities, viable economic nodes and where there is a large movement of people, goods and services within the administrative area.

Furthermore, the so-called assertion that metros are effective service delivery vehicles is untrue, as government’s own research shows that in all South African metros (except the City of Cape Town after 2006 when the DA took over), costs rose and the quality of service delivery declined.

The creation of a Metro will also not address spatial segregation, as all municipalities are mandated by sections 152 and 153 of the Constitution to deliver services, to promote social and economic development, and to budget in such a manner so as to prioritise those needs.

There is no evidence that suggests that basic service delivery and the quality of life of communities in poor performing municipalities improved after being incorporated into metros.

In fact it only happened in the DA-governed City of Cape Town and in municipalities across the country where the DA was elected to govern, such as Midvaal in Gauteng.

To this end, the DA will register its opposition to the establishment of a metropolitan municipality in the West Rand with the MDB within the 21-day period, and we call on all affected residents to do so as well.

We will also launch an intensive campaign across all four affected municipalities, explaining to people the reasons behind our opposition, and ask them to join us and lodge their own submissions opposing the merger.

The answer to improved service delivery does not lie in merging poor performing municipalities into metropolitan municipalities, it lies in competent local government, staffed with skilled professionals who put the needs of the people first.

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