THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN VOTED AND ELECTED TO GOVERN THE MUNICIPALITIES MUST HIT THE GROUND RUNNING – PEOPLE ARE DESPERATE FOR BETTER SERVICE DELIVERY
Comment by: Ray McCauley Sun 28 Nov 21
Now, we can officially say the election season is over and the hard work of serving the people of South Africa lies ahead. After two weeks of intense coalition negotiations, with accusations and counteraccusations in the public space by political parties, the coalition talks have come to an end and finally, local governments have been formed in the so-called hung municipalities.
It is difficult to tell whether these local government coalition arrangements are due to the political parties strategically voting with or against each other, however, whatever names these arrangements are given, the bottom line is that local municipalities have been formed. On that note, I would like to congratulate all the Mayors, Speakers and Councillors that have been elected to serve our country at the local level for the next five years.
To those who lost both the elections and the coalition talks, particularly the ruling party (ANC), they must remember that in a properly functioning democracy the citizens have a way of reminding those who govern over them that they (the citizens) are the ones who ultimately exercise power. They have the right to choose who governs them based on their performance, and if the democracy is worth its salt, the governors will have no qualms accepting that reminder. It is encouraging that the ANC made concessions even before the election results were officially announced. This speaks of the health of our democracy. It does not happen often on our Continent that the incumbents accept electoral defeat.
South Africa’s democracy, the youngest on our Continent, is a beacon of hope. Election outcomes in Africa are often accompanied by divisions and deep political instability. The political contours on the Continent are littered with coups, countercoups, and aborted coups because of the fragile nature of Africa’s electoral democracy. The manner in which the Independent Electoral Commission conducted the 2021 local government elections and the general conduct of the contestants would have made the founding father of our democracy, Nelson Mandela, proud – be it with the lowest voter turn-out ever.
Following the NEC meeting this past weekend, the ANC have resigned themselves to sit on the opposition benches in the municipalities they lost, particularly the metros in Gauteng. Let this be the time for the ANC to reflect, go back to the drawing board and retrace its steps. There is a need for the ANC to reach out to the voters and communities and to interact with them, including the various stakeholders, to deal with the concerns of the people. I do hope that amongst the sectors it will reach out to will be the religious sector. There have been instances in the recent past where the religious sector has reached out to the ANC to caution it about the poor service delivery in the communities and corruption among its ranks.
One hopes that the ANC will not only conduct this listening campaign with candour but also more critically respond with action to the concerns people will raise if it hopes to regain the voters’ lost trust. Hard work lies ahead for the ruling party to rebuild and renew itself.
To those who have been elected Mayors, Speakers and Councillors in different municipalities across the country – you have an obligation to serve the people of this country. South Africans have sent a strong warning to the electoral system and political establishment that they are no longer going to tolerate poor service delivery any longer. Political parties cannot afford to play political games instead of serving the people.
The games that were played by political parties in Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane in the last five years through coalition arrangements were totally shameful and a slap in the face of South Africans who had voted for them. We saw these two metros rendered dysfunctional due to their political agendas, all at the expense of our people. One truly hopes this time around people will be a priority. For our democracy to remain a beacon of hope on our Continent those who are in power must remember that they are there to serve the people and not their political agendas.
The state of our Municipalities is well known, and the Councillors are fully aware of the desperate conditions that our people live under. The political parties have seen the extremely terrible results of poor service delivery in the Municipalities during their campaigning and this time around there must be no excuse for failure to deliver service to the communities.
Our people are crying about basic services like lack of water in their areas. Water is a basic human right and it safeguards people’s dignity. Having people both young and old lining up for water – particularly in the townships and rural areas – must be stopped with immediate effect. We cannot subject our people to such harsh living conditions anymore. The issue of water is desperate, and I hope that in the new administrations this matter will be at the top of their agendas.
Some areas are still using a bucket system and pit toilets. How this is possible after 27 years is beyond me. In some areas, there is damage and poor infrastructure, especially roads, no streets lights and poor collection of refuse. There are no parks or areas for the children to play which is completely unacceptable – children are either forced to play on the streets or simply stay home.
Then there are the issues of corruption, patronage jobs and tenders for pals, and the general mismanagement of state resources. As a result, these municipalities fail in basic service delivery to the communities.
Those who have been voted into power and elected to govern have their work cut out for them, they must hit the ground running and fix these problems that have been affecting our communities for a long time. The people of this country deserve better, those who have been elected can do better, South Africans deserve to be treated with the human dignity promised in our Constitution.
Year in and year out people are being asked to be patient while they endure the terrible conditions they are subjected to. Those who have accepted the responsibility to govern must deliver basic services to the people. Let’s end the nightmare and build better communities that give people some dignity.
We wish you, the Coalition Governments, all the best but remember South Africans will judge you by your actions in five years’ time.
PASTOR RAY McCAULEY IS THE PRESIDENT OF RHEMA FAMILY CHURCHES AND THE CO-CHAIRPERSON OF NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS COUNCIL