By Masizole Mnqasela MPP, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Local Government, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Local Government in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament:
The troubles at the Icosa-led Kannaland Municipality run deeper than the R12m debt that it owes to Eskom.
The municipality is failing to establish a growth-enabling environment. Revenue generated from economic growth will enable the municipality to pay its dues, such as the Eskom debt. The Executive Mayor, Jeffrey Donson, has regrettably damaged relationships with the local agricultural sector and business community in general. There is a chronic breakdown of trust between business and the Municipality. This is the number one indicator to the challenge in job creation in the area.
The majority-poor population in Kannaland are the victims of this mistrust between the municipality and the private sector. They are in need of the jobs that could otherwise be created.
Mayor Donson chooses to blame the R12m Eskom debt on the poor residents of Kannaland. Despite the fact that the indigent make use of prepaid electricity meters. They too pay electricity and in fact, they constitute the majority of those who pay up front.
This has been confirmed by the Democratic Alliance Constituency Head in the Kannaland region, Zelda Jongbloed MP, who says “the vast majority of people in Kannaland, use pre-paid electricity meters.”
The responsibility for the R12m Eskom debt simply rests on the municipality, for which the Mayor is accountable. This raises serious questions on how the Icosa-led Kannaland Municipality is spending the people’s money. This explains why Mayor Donson avoids accountability.
In addition, Mayor Donson has suggested that the DA has been inciting the people of Kannaland not to pay their electricity bills. This is absurd. The Democratic Alliance is a constitutional party and does not endorse lawless behaviour.
This municipality has failed to adhere to the provisions set-out in Section 152 of the Constitution, which clearly stipulates the fundamental duties, and responsibilities of a local municipality. Kannaland Municipality has also failed to adhere to the provisions of the Local Government Municipal Property Rates Act 12 of 2007.
In a bid to hide his inability to govern, Mayor Donson has ignored numerous calls made to him by the Standing Committee on Local Government in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP). He is ducking accountability for the poor governance that the people of Kannaland are subjected to.
On July 21-24 in 2015, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) went on a service delivery Oversight Tour in Kannaland. Public hearings were held as part of the statutory mandates of parliament, to ensure that quality and responsive governance is taking place on the ground.
Despite sufficient notice being given regarding this visit to Kannaland Municipality, Mayor Donson absconded from the deliberations. The Mayor does not deem the Western Cape Parliament and the National Parliament as partners in promoting Intergovernmental Relations.
Mayor Donson considers Kannaland as an Island. We cannot allow it to continue. As parliament, we have a duty to contribute to a dignified and lifestyle for all communitites. Kannaland is no exception. We will not abdicate our responsibility towards the poor and marginalised. We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that we bring stability to the economy of Kannaland.
The people of Kannaland deserve a municipal-government that will establish a job-creating environment and turn the tide towards good governance. People in this area should have access to job opportunities, like in all other Municipalities, rather than being subjected to a government that ignores their cries. Kannaland will finally be free from the chains of deprivation, stagnation and poverty. A government that cares is all that the people of Kannaland needs.