by Ald. Tania Campbell — DA Leader in Ekurhuleni
Date: 25 March 2021
Type: Media Statement adapted from the Reply to the State of the City Address
On Wednesday the 24th of March, Executive Mayor, Cllr. Mzwandile Masina, delivered what was supposed to be his final State of the City Address (SOCA) in the current political term. Instead, it resembled more of a farewell speech. It was difficult to tell the difference as everything that he said indicated just how removed from reality the ANC Coalition-led* administration really are.
The dire state of waste in the City, the unstable power supply leading to economic decline, the lack of housing opportunity for residents, as well as the precarious financial state that the Metro finds itself are all major problems that the Mayor failed to acknowledge. These problems are having a dire effect on the poor state of service delivery across the City of Ekurhuleni.
One does not have to venture far to witness the rapid decline of infrastructure in this Metro. Our streets are littered with potholes, our stadiums and libraries are in a decrepit state and our civic buildings continue to deteriorate with increasing the neglect by the Metro. Parks throughout the City have been without grass cutting or maintenance services rendering many of them overgrown and completely unusable to the public. These are areas of critical importance to communities who have limited access to green spaces, especially over the lockdown period associated with Covid-19. Yet the Executive Mayor speaks of fanciful ideas such as a Disneyland and a botanical garden, yet his administration cannot even maintain the parks under the Lungile Mtshali legacy project.
Associated with the lack of maintenance, has been the non-cleaning of storm water infrastructure causing blocked drains and major surface runoff leading to an increase in floods exacerbated by the heavy rains experienced in the past few months. This has subsequently led to the previously mentioned proliferation of potholes leaving our roads in a terrible and dangerous state, with no budget for repairs.
Emergency services, deemed so critical to the livelihoods of our residents, have been severely compromised since ambulance services have been provincialized. With ambulances now falling within the ambit of provincial government, their response time has been hindered, as the control centre is unfamiliar with local Ekurhuleni communities. This results in a response lag, which could mean the difference between life and death. The City of Tshwane has since retrieved their license and we call on Ekurhuleni to do the same.
From an administrative perspective, the ANC Coalition-led Metro continues to be vulnerable to increasing amounts of corruption as a result of poor supply chain management. The City follows a closed-tender process which is neither transparent nor fair. The Mayor spoke of the need to promote local economic development as a strategy for job creation, however, an astounding of 92% of tenders were rewarded to companies situated outside of the Metro, as tabled in a Report on the Implementation of Supply Chain Management Policy for the second quarter of the 2020/21 Financial Year. Contrary to his utterances, these figures clearly reveal that the policy does little to uplift local businesses in Ekurhuleni.
The Mayor also failed to mention the devastating effect that critical vacancies are having on service delivery across all departments. A shocking example is the 195 vacancies within the Health Department leading to massive operational shortcomings at our clinics. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is inexcusable to have so many vacancies in a time when all resources are critical in the fight against the virus. Most clinics across the Metro are overwhelmed with staff working under constant pressure to provide patients with the care they need. Meanwhile these patients have to endure long queues for up to four hours to receive treatment. It is difficult to see how an effective vaccine role out plan would play out in this context.
While the lockdown experienced over the last year required extraordinary steps to help contain the spread of the virus, it cannot be used as an excuse to not render services to rate paying residents across the City. Much of the Metro’s administrative staff have been working from home, with the City Manager’s office working on a 30% rotational basis. Unfortunately, this has equated to a major decline in productivity across the Metro, ultimately causing a severe decline in service delivery to our residents. The lockdown provided the Metro with an opportunity to refocus and reprioritise the City’s strategy to be more responsive and provide better services to residents; instead, it have allowed all facets of the City to fall into decline.
In a health crisis, as demonstrated by Covid-19, residents need services more than ever. As waste piles up in informal settlements and toilets remain uncleaned for weeks on end — contributing to the existing health crisis in our communities, Mayor Masina continues to govern via Twitter. In order to turn the collapsing state of the City around, residents require an administration that is on the ground with their finger on the pulse, and not sitting in ivory towers on social media.
Residents are crying out for a caring and committed administration that can deliver desperately needed services across the board. Wednesday’s address afforded an opportunity for the Mayor to provide not only an honest and accurate depiction of the state of the City, but to also present a plan on how to effectively improve service delivery and the livelihoods of Ekurhuleni’s residents.
The Executive Mayor failed in both. Mayor Masina painted an unrealistic picture that hides the grim realities that many Ekurhuleni residents face on a day-to-day basis under the incumbent administration. Nor did he provide any real inspiration or plan to tackle the major problems facing the Metro. Instead, he presented a 10-point plan formulated over three years ago that lacks any relevance in an economy grappling with the effects of Covid-19.
Now more than ever residents of Ekurhuleni need inspirational leadership and a solid strategy on how the administration plans to restore the Metro to a functional state. Unfortunately, Mayor Masina delivered on neither and the City is worse off for it.
Ald. Tania Campbell
DA Leader in Ekurhuleni