Coalition governments in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay last month passed the 2018/19 metro budgets, totalling R100-billion, which shows that these governments “are fiscally responsible with people’s money”.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday to unpack the R100-billion budget allocation, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said that coalition governments have helped bring service delivery and fight corruption in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Maimane was accompanied by Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) national chairperson Jo-Ann Downs, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Transport MMC in Johannesburg Nonhlanhla Makhuba and Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) leader Pieter Groenewald.
Maimane said the parties have proven wrong all those who thought that a coalition government was not going to work.
“I am grateful that they [coalition governments] have worked on a number of principles. While there is still a long journey and many more complex problems for these coalition governments to solve, huge progress continues to be made,” he said.
He said what distinguished the coalition budgets from previous metro budgets under the African National Congress (ANC) was that they were all singularly focused on pro-poor basic service delivery improvements, and on creating an enabling environment for job creation, defeating corruption and winning the fight against crime.
The opposition leader added that the party had inherited Johannesburg with a massive infrastructure backlog in energy and water.
“Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and his team has had to deal with high levels of corruption thanks to the ANC government,” Maimane claimed.
The IFP’s Makhuba painted a bad picture of the state of the roads in Johannesburg.
“It has not been an easy journey but what is guiding us is the need to put our people first. Billions are needed and it has become clear that we don’t have the money. Whatever is given to us goes to pro-poor areas where there is no access to roads to make sure that people have access to basic services,” said Makhuba.
She added that the City of Johannesburg was also working hard to improve the billing system.
Other services that are expected include the installation of traffic light battery packs, to make sure that traffic light faults at intersections drop by nearly three-quarters. The housing budget is R1.5-billion while R12.5-million has been allocated to three community substance abuse treatment centres.
Cope leader Lekota added that the coalition government would do their best to make sure that Johannesburg residents received better housing in the city.
He said it was unfair that foreigners were living in the city while local people were living far from their places of employment.
He went on to blame the ruling party for not looking into opening refugee camps.
“We need to put our own people first,” said Lekota.
ACDP national chairperson Downs said it was difficult for a coalition government to get away with non-performance.
“Coalition government is the future for South Africa,” she said and added that the leadership team had ambitious plans for Tshwane.
Almost R1-billion has been apportioned by the City for electricity, roads, storm water and housing respectively.
Nearly double the almost R1-billion that will be used for housing has been provided for general infrastructural maintenance and repairs, which Downs says is a 20% increase compared with the previous budget.
R25-million has been allocated to deal with fixing sinkholes in the city and almost R300-million in capital expenditure will be used on upgrading informal settlements.
FF Plus leader Groenewald said coalitions were all about putting the people’s needs first.
“Local government has a lot of challenges. As a previous mayor, I know that the collection of services is a major problem in metros,” he said.
Groenewald added that the City of Tshwane has been allocated R132-million to deal with issues of water and sanitation, R250-million for roads and drainage and R150-million for job creation through the Expanded Public Works Programme.
R318-million has been directed towards a comprehensive security plan for security services at City facilities to reduce theft and vandalism.
Nelson Mandela Bay
The DA leader spoke glowingly about Nelson Mandela Bay metro which he says has, for the first time, managed to have fully functional public transport and metro police, which have played a role in the decline of crime.
Almost half a billion rand has been apportioned to upgrading housing and informal settlements. R45-million of this will be used for the acquisition of land for housing development in the areas of Seaview and Lorraine; R183.4-million will be spent on various human settlements projects and a R30-million bucket eradication programme.
“Our key focus is on eradicating the bucket system as well as to fight corruption. We are aggressively bringing dignity to the people. Cities must uphold the rule of law,” Maimane said.
R167.9-million in informal housing and informal electrification programmes will be rolled out over the medium term.
Almost almost R150-million will be injected into the upgrading of community facilities. R36-million of this will go towards the construction of three Multi-Purpose Centres.
Libraries will be upgraded and restored for R32-million and R18.5-million in sports facilities upgrades will be implemented. Further, a R6-million major park upgrade will be developed, and R49-million in upgrades and development of public open spaces will be rolled out.
“These metro budgets are focused and responsible pro-poor budgets that seek to build a conducive environment for job-creation, crush corruption, win the war against crime and deliver excellent services to the people,” said the parties.