West Rand Metro: Residents speak out against proposed merger

By Solly Msimanga MPL, DA Gauteng Provincial Chairperson:

Last week residents of the West Rand spoke out strongly against the proposed formation of a metropolitan municipality, despite the ANC’s efforts to cynically manipulate public participation processes.

The Merafong, Mogale City, Westonaria and Randfontein local municipalities scheduled public participation meetings in order to sell the virtues of the proposed merger to the public.

During the meetings it became clear that residents were deeply concerned over the effect the formation of a metro would have on service delivery, and that it would have a negative effect on their quality of life.

Of great concern is how the ANC tried to manipulate processes to create false impressions of support for the formation of a metro by bussing in party members and allowing meetings to descend into chaos.

On Wednesday, Mogale City Mayor Koketso Ceerane failed to arrive for the meeting and had it rescheduled for Friday, only to change the venue at the last minute. The new venue was pre-emptively packed to the rafters with ANC supporters to prevent residents from making representations.

Westonaria was also convened at very short notice and changed to 10:00, while Merafong was cancelled because mayor Mogale-Letsie claimed it was a stakeholder meeting and not open to the public.

Despite the ANC’s efforts it is clear that residents are strongly opposed to merging the four municipalities into a metro – and the DA collected and handed over almost 8000 submissions to the Municipal Demarcation Board in response.

People know and understand that the formation of a metro will have a detrimental effect on their quality of life, that rates will increase while service delivery declines, and that the effects of the financial drain caused by the merger will be carried for many years to come.

There are other more effective legislative ways to build capacity in underperforming municipalities, and the DA will continue to push for the scrapping of the merger and the implementation of other interventions.

The people of the West Rand deserve closer and more accountable local government.