Political game of mayoral-chess is not the answer to Mpumalanga’s service delivery woes

By James Masango, MPL, DA Mpumalanga Provincial Leader:

Political game of mayoral-chess is not the answer to Mpumalanga’s service delivery woes

Last month, the ANC fired four mayors from the eMalahleni, Lekwa, Dr JS Moroka and Thaba Chweu local municipalities, citing their incompetence to hold office as the reason for their dismissal. Strange, as it was the ANC who appointed them to begin with.

It is reported that the ANC’s provincial secretary said that the state of governance and political leadership left much to be desired in the wake of these Mayors.

To put it simply, the governing party has acknowledged that their lack of political leadership and failure to decisively deal with corruption is hindering their ability to deliver services and this is affecting the people of Mpumalanga. However, when one looks at the state of service delivery across the entire province, it is clear that if indeed the mayors where fired because of their incompetence, the ANC would have fired almost all the mayors in Mpumalanga.

In the last three financial years, out of 21 municipalities only Steve Tshwete local municipality has managed to achieve and maintain a clean audit. According to the Auditor General’s report, the worst performing municipalities in the province are eMalahleni and Thaba Chweu which have for the past three years, received disclaimer opinions. Mkhondo municipality has been on a downward spiral and has received disclaimer opinions for the past two financial years. With an unemployment rate of 35.9%, one of the highest in the province, it is clear that Mkhondo municipality also suffers from poor political leadership and is failing to deliver services as well as to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in order to create jobs. Yet the ANC has left Mkhondo’s Mayor to continue the destruction of the municipality.

Ironically, Lekwa municipality is the only one of the four that seems to get better every year. Three years ago, the municipality received a disclaimer opinion which was followed by a qualified opinion. In the 2013/14 financial year, the municipality received an unqualified opinion with findings. While the municipality has been wracked with financial woes such as being unable to pay Eskom on time, it is certainly not amongst the worst performing municipalities. So what motivated the ANC to remove its performing Mayor in Lekwa?

Msukaligwa municipality received disclaimer opinions for two consecutive years. Their audit outcomes for the 2013/14 financial year has not been finalised. Along with persistent water and sanitation problems, this municipality also struggles with repaying its Eskom debt. It’s mayor stays in power at the pleasure of the ANC.

At 52.1%, Bushbuckridge sits with the highest unemployment rate in the province. More than half of its people cannot find work, no matter what they try. Even with the annual promise by Premier David Mabuza, of installing bulk water systems so that communities can access clean, potable water, many residents of this municipality still travel far to fetch water from streams that they share with animals. Bushbuckridge is also notorious for service delivery protests that often turn violent. And its mayor is still secure in the comfort of his office.

It is unclear how the ANC came to the conclusion that those four municipalities were the worst at delivering services when all across the province communities are crying out for basic services. What is clear is that the ANC’s political game of mayoral-chess is not the answer to service delivery. It is merely a game of power and control that will do little to improve the lives of Mpumalanga’s residents. Indeed, the ANC’s house of cards is tumbling in Mpumalanga.

It is only the people of Mpumalanga who can put an end to corrupt and ineffective leadership by taking back their power and voting in a government that truly puts them first. Rooted in the values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for all, a DA government is the only government that will put the people first.

While in Mpumalanga the number of poor households increases year on year, the DA has proven time and time again that where we govern, life is better. According to Statistics South Africa, the DA-led Western Cape provides the greatest number of free basic services to the poor. And by far the highest percentage of indigent households receiving free water, electricity and sanitation are found in the Western Cape where the DA governs, because the DA truly cares.

This is the kind of quality service delivery which the DA will bring when we govern Mpumalanga.