By James Masango MPL, Spokesperson on CoGTA:
The electricity backlog in Mpumalanga municipalities currently sits at R4.6 billion, with eMalahleni representing the bulk of outstanding infrastructure at R4.057 billion needed, followed by Mbombela with R142 million. This is according to the CoGTA 1st Quarter performance report for the 2015/16 financial year.
Currently 92% of households in Mpumalanga have electricity delivery – but this is not enough. The 8% who have no access to electricity are the residents we should all be concerned about. The 8% that continues to be marginalised in society, have yet to taste the freedoms fought for in South Africa. They cannot be safe and they cannot be connected to the world’s technology, while they have electricity denied to them.
It is this 8% and more that will continue to protest in a violent manner, demanding delivery of electricity amongst others. Some protests we have witnessed include burning already existing infrastructure out of sheer frustrations from not receiving services.
In the Western Cape, where the DA governs, residents enjoy the highest electricity, water and sanitation delivery of any province in South Africa because the DA cares for people’s needs and takes the opportunities people need seriously.
Without electricity, the growth and sustainability of SMMEs (which are the primary job creators) is compromised and jobs are denied to communities. To truly affect change, delivery of the basic services is essential.
With the R4.6 billion backlog currently equating to 12% of the province’s entire R38.7 billion fiscus, it is difficult to envision this backlog being addressed using the provincial coffers only. So our residents will continue to go without lighting and technology abilities.
The Mpumalanga Government should urgently engage with business and small businesses, to discuss their challenges, and to find mutual solutions. Government cannot abdicate its responsibility, and the DA believes that by engaging business, solutions can be found.
A DA government would promote business-friendly legislation, cut red tape and encourage companies to invest in the infrastructure that upgrades opportunities in the country.
A good working relationship between government and business is vital for the economy to succeed.