Let’s Fix South Africa By Fixing Municipalities

Today I stand before you, to deliver the solutions that ActionSA, will present for the municipalities we will govern after these elections.

The importance of this moment stands on the shoulders of you, the people of South Africa.

You have contributed to this project with your dreams and ambitions for our country, and your ideas and solutions for the problems that hold us back. 

From the days of The People’s Dialogue, through to today, we have listened to your voices, and taken your concerns and ideas on board. This is, what makes this moment so powerful.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I could do what other political parties do and tell you everything you already know.

I could tell you that crime is bad.

I could tell you that corruption is rampant.

I could tell you that service delivery is failing.

But, you don’t need another opposition party telling you what you already know. We know that South Africa is headed in the wrong direction. We do not need to dwell on this.

Instead, I want to tell you about these words that are blazoned on the beautiful bright green posters you see going up all around you; “Let’s Fix South Africa.”

These words that inspire us as a party, contain two irrefutable truths.

Firstly, it is the truth that every South African wants to see our country succeed, and our people prosper, despite the depths of our national depression.

My message to you is that hope is not lost. We can fix South Africa.

Hope is an amazing thing because not matter how dark it is, a light of hope can still be seen for miles around.

Change will not happen overnight, but it can start immediately.

This is why we say, “Let’s Fix South Africa” and not just the municipalities ActionSA will contest on 1 November this year.

Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Newcastle, and KwaDukuza, are the places where we are going to generate the spark that will ignite a fire in the people of South Africa to see this project through to 2024.

It is in these cities that we will demonstrate to every South African that failing governments can be removed, that they can be replaced and that services can be delivered to all South Africans. 

It is from these cities that we will go to every South African across our country. We will ignite the hope that will see the change of government in 2024. It from these cities that will start the process of Fixing South Africa.

And, how fitting it is that this spark of hope will begin at local government level – what the drafters of our Constitution, intended to be the coalface of service delivery for all South Africans.

The second truth of our slogan, Let’s Fix South Africa, is that it is ActionSA that is going to Fix South Africa, together with the good, hard-working, law-abiding, and peace-loving people of our beloved country.

We are not like the hundreds of political parties that lack the ambition or imagination to be more than opposition parties.

Despite our relative youth, ActionSA is a party set apart with a strong track record in government.

Within our ranks, we have former Mayors, former Deputy Mayors, MMCs, Chiefs of Staff, Chiefs of Metro Police, CEO’s of local government associations, chairpersons of parliamentary portfolio committees, and the list goes on and on!

The track record and experience of these individuals has been married to the experiences of South African professionals to produce a local government manifesto, that is our blueprint for igniting hope.

At the foundation of this manifesto are the priority outcomes that ActionSA governments will deliver.

5 years from now, I ask you to judge us harshly against these priorities, which are:

  • Re-orientating people-centric governments that deliver services with pride,
  • Building an ethical and professional public service,
  • Bringing back the rule of law,
  • Being a caring and inclusive government and,
  • Delivering an environment where businesses and people prosper.

Within these priorities, I will now begin to unpack ActionSA’s solutions for local government.

Municipal governments must be re-oriented to serve people and deliver services with pride.

For too many years, local government has become unresponsive to the needs of people and communities. It has become a place which appears to exist to serve itself, divorced from what public service is meant to be – the greatest honour possible, to serve the public.

We believe that the residents of municipalities are the customers of those municipalities and have the expectation of receiving quality and reliable services. They deserve no less.

This belief is at the core of ActionSA’s manifesto. Our governments will be people-centric, and ensure that we provide value to our customers, the residents we serve.

This requires that every function, every department and every person of these municipalities to be redesigned and measured against its direct or indirect benefit to the people of that municipality.

It must involve a widespread training, and, re-orientation, designed to remove the brainwashing of cadre deployment. It must develop a sense of pride in the work of municipalities, build morale in the importance of serving people, and create a culture of excellence.

We will re-write the municipal budgets in these municipalities. We will begin by taking the funds allocated to the political luxuries of the past; self-promoting advertising, international travel, conferences, consultants, and other ways public monies have been wasted.

When I had the privilege of serving the people of Johannesburg, we inherited levels of wastefulness that you could not believe.

From R379 million on billboards and radio adverts to R1 million on DSTV subscriptions.

The only good thing about this, was that I was able to redirect over R2 billion from this kind of waste and redirect it to the most pressing needs of the City: electricity, water, roads and housing in such a manner that their share of the capital budget rose from 58% to 71% in just 3 years.

This is the promise that we undertake for every ActionSA government.

As a part of the people-centric approach, ActionSA will begin the process of negotiating all ESKOM supply areas to be handed over to our municipalities.

Communities who are supplied directly by ESKOM have been abused for too long. They are residents of these municipalities and yet they are treated as second class citizens by a failed SOE while the municipalities shrug their shoulders.

It is not good enough.

As we speak right now, there are communities in Soweto who have been without electricity for months. MONTHS.

People who are willing to pay cannot even access electricity, because whole communities are painted with the same brush against every principle in our Constitution.

It cannot be.

ESKOM can keep the historic debt, these communities can be moved onto our municipal grids of supply and those who can pay will pay, while those who cannot afford to pay will be provided the same basket of free services as every other qualifying resident of these municipalities.

To ensure that we can continue to provide free services in a sustainable manner, we will take on National Government to provide a greater share of the national revenue to our growing indigent communities.

Instead of throwing billions more at ESKOM, give this money to our governments and we will make sure that we deliver.

The days of reliance on ESKOM are over.

Our municipalities will use every available mechanism to generate or procure our own electricity to increase our independence from ESKOM.

These opportunities exist in terms of current electricity generating licenses, new opportunities emerging from the developments with IPPs and, if necessary, litigation against a national government that must get out of the way for municipalities to deliver what it cannot.

When the country experiences load-shedding, we will demonstrate that the lights can stay on for the businesses and people of these municipalities. 

Our next priority area is to build an ethical and professional public service wherever we govern.

ActionSA stands unmatched in its track record in fighting corruption.

Leaders like Makhosi Khoza stood up as an ANC MP at the time, to Jacob Zuma during the height of his power and publicly declared her intention to vote for a motion of no confidence against him.

Vytjie Mentor is the reason we have a state capture commission on enquiry today, because she stood up and exposed the Guptas offering ministerial posts like shares in their company.

When I served the people of Johannesburg, I established an anti-corruption unit and appointed a former Scorpion to run it. We recruited the best professionals as investigators, and, they were given the mandate to do their work without political interference.

The outcome of this process was more than 6000 cases investigated, totalling R35 billion in transactions and over 700 arrests.

This, is the ActionSA track record that you can believe when I say there will be such a unit in every municipality we govern.

We will institute measures to financially incentivise whistle-blowers coming forward and we will protect them however it is necessary to ensure the guilty go where they belong – to jail.

We will institute lifestyle audits for political office-bearers, senior managers and any official operating in an environment susceptible to bribery.

And because transparency is the best cure for corruption, we will appoint an NGO to observe all city tenders and be mandated to report publicly on any form of wrongdoing, against which we will act decisively.

Our professionalising of the public service will start with the removal of all cadres.

Let me be clear to the municipal officials in these municipalities: irrespective of your political background, if you want to work with us to serve communities, we will work with you to deliver service with pride.

But, if you are there because of who you know rather than what you know; if you are there to serve a political party first and a community second; let me suggest that you should leave before we arrive, because you will have no place with us.

Appointments will be made on merit and competence, not political connections.

Performance management will align the needs of residents and communities with the work of departments and will take place from the top to the bottom of these municipalities.

We will reward those who are committed to service excellence. But when there is non-performance, there will be consequences.

The rule of law will be a cornerstone of any ActionSA governed municipality, because no country, city or town can ever prosper in an environment of chaos.

What this will require, is that municipalities must compensate for the inherent failure of the SAPS.

In our metros we will rapidly expand the metro police force to the standard of one officer for every 1000 residents.

This capacitation will not produce more cops hiding in the bushes with speed cameras while our residents are left to fend for themselves against criminals.

Rather, it will be focussed on capacitating an ethical and effective metro police service, that will focus on priority areas like crime prevention, cable theft, by-law enforcement, narcotics and traffic management.

Partnerships with private security companies and the private sector, will produce a massive network of CCTV cameras that expand the reach of our security efforts.

Municipal courts will be established and every ward will have dedicated by-law enforcement capacity. Those who break our by-laws will appear before a magistrate and will face consequences for their undermining of the rule of law.

And, to be clear, I am not talking about prosecuting kind people who grow vegetables on their sidewalk to feed those in need. Rather, I refer to those who dump illegally, ignore building codes, defy health and safety standards and other serious by-laws.

Even in our towns of KwaDukuza and Newcastle, the appointment of peace officers to enforce by-laws and the establishment of municipal courts is something that can and will be done.

When addressing the rule of law, ActionSA will not shy away from what needs to be said about illegal immigration.

Let me be very clear, because there are those who want to silence us by mischaracterising our position on this matter.

I want the people of the world to come to South Africa and these municipalities. But, they must come here legally and obey our laws while they are here.

Just as we are required to obtain visas or permits before entering foreign countries, I believe the same should apply to those who wish to visit us.

If you have a problem with this position, you have a problem with the law and you have a problem with how every country in the world operates and I can’t help you with that. 

But, make no mistake, the failure of our national government to manage our borders, is creating a crisis that we cannot remain unresponsive to in local government.

It is for this reason that ActionSA will establish a dedicated unit within the metro police departments to process any undocumented foreign national arrested for a crime.

This unit, will professionalise a relationship with Home Affairs and the Department of Justice to facilitate the deportation of any person who is here illegally and breaks our laws.

But, we must never forget that there are many people who should be documented but are failed by Home Affairs. This leaves them vulnerable to abuse by criminal syndicates and ruthless employers.

In municipalities in which ActionSA governs, we will initiate legal action to force Home Affairs to perform the duties required in our laws, and, to insist metros that have higher numbers of undocumented immigrants receive higher shares of the budget.

And, we will continue to engage National Government to overhaul our immigration system to make it easier for those who wish to come to South Africa legally to receive the proper documentation efficiently.

But, I am unapologetic that our municipalities cannot be expected to continue footing the bill for the failure of Home Affairs to manage our borders and document those who are entitled to documentation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

ActionSA will produce caring governments that deliver responsively to the needs of communities and residents.

This means, that we have to be unapologetic about being pro-poor in our service delivery agenda.

A few years ago, on the campaign trail in Alexandra, I met a young woman with my delegation.

She had a presence that would have made her at home in a corporate boardroom if life had been fair.

When I saw she had no toilet, I asked her how she survived. She told me, “I have trained my body to only need the toilet at my place of work.”

It broke my heart.

It is for such people that we have to deliver services that provide the dignity that will come from living in an ActionSA municipality.

In my experience in Johannesburg, and to the immense credit of the South African spirit, whenever I spoke of such people to those who were more fortunate, without exception, they wanted the City to do everything in its power to correct that kind of injustice.

Part of being a caring government means that we need solutions around the billing crisis that has taken root across many municipalities.

This requires measures to improve the accuracy of bills and reduce the percentage of incorrect bills.

It also requires a customer care standard where those receiving incorrect bills can call for help, have their call answered within 2 minutes, receive caring and professional treatment, and, have their query resolved within a week.

It can be done, and it will be done. 

Another ActionSA guarantee that we will make as part of a caring government is to insource temporary workers when a clear business case exists.

In Johannesburg I was appalled to discover security guards who were paid as little as R3000 per month. They didn’t have letters of appointment and were paid irregularly by ANC tenderpreneurs who were paid R14 000 per security guard.

They guarded our valuable infrastructure, and, were permanently required, so, their integration into the City was critical.

We were able to insource thousands of these security guards, increasing their take home pay overnight by a minimum of 50% and cap the escalating costs of those contracts.

We make this commitment in all the municipalities we will govern.

Finally, our commitment to create an environment for business and people to prosper will be a hallmark of ActionSA governments.

I say this because the best thing government can do, is create the environment for people to gain employment, because, jobs improve lives more effectively than governments can.

Where ActionSA governs, we will rollout affordable, high-speed internet, especially to poorer communities.

Our goal will be to ensure that every resident must be within 2kms of a Wi-Fi hotspot that reduces their cost of data, and makes it easier to study, to search for work and to access municipal customer care.  

We will ensure that a package of incentives is produced which results in businesses electing to set up their operations in these municipalities, and, generate employment for those without the dignity of work.

Most of all, we will provide the conditions that business need to succeed through the rule of law, the improvement of municipal responses, and the stability of municipal services.

In a global economy where international conglomerates shop around for the best deal when setting up new offices, ActionSA municipalities must be able to be competitive on the global stage in order to attract the investment we need to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

This is what businesses need to succeed, and we need to get businesses to succeed to address the unemployment crisis in our country.

Another hallmark of ActionSA’s governments will be the rejuvenation of the inner cities and town centres of our municipalities.

We will follow the model achieved in Johannesburg which saw 154 abandoned buildings handed over to the private sector, which produced plans to generate 14 500 units of affordable accommodation, 21 000 permanent construction sector jobs, and R32 billion in investment.

The decay of our inner cities across South Africa offers this opportunity, and we will pursue this model relentlessly wherever we govern.

The abandoned factories that lie across our country are crimes scenes of what has been done to our economy.

ActionSA will ensure that we take possession of abandoned factories, that we put them out on tender, and, that we provide them free of charge to any business on the basis of how long they will operate, how much they will invest, and how many South Africans they will employ.

Our unemployment rate of 44% is a national embarrassment. It is even worse for young people, for whom unemployment stands at 74%.

It is clear that national government has no idea how to address this crisis, and this is why municipalities will need to shoulder the responsibility, to innovate solutions to bring the dignity of work to more South Africans.

This, above all else, is the objective that ActionSA must deliver against.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am proud to be joined here today by Abel Tau our Mayoral Candidate for Tshwane.

Dr Makhosi Khoza, our Mayoral Candidate for eThekwini.

Nel Sewraj, our Mayoral Candidate for KwaDukuza.

Tlhogi Moseki, our Mayoral Candidate for Ekurhuleni.

Faizal Cassim, our Mayoral Candidate for Newcastle.

Each of these great South Africans, stands poised and ready to dedicate their lives to serving you.

We have a vision for our municipalities.

Do you want to see a war waged against corruption?

Then this is your team.

Do you want leadership that get municipal officials working for you?

Then this is your team.

Do you want electricity and water and roads and toilets to be delivered to communities that have never had the dignity of these services?

Then, this is your team.

Do you want bills that are accurate and customer care that treats you with respect and responsiveness?

Then, this is your team.

Do you want Mayors who will work night and day to make sure your businesses thrive and you live in a city where jobs are growing?

Then, this is your team.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The work to Fix South Africa has begun.

But, we cannot do it alone.

I am here today to invite you to join us, young and old, black and white, Indian and coloured, men and women, of all cultural backgrounds

Whichever God you pray to, and whomever you love, whether you live in a village or a city, I ask you to join us.

Because, with your help, nothing and nobody will be able to stop us as we work to provide hope to every South African in every concern of our country.

Together we can fix South Africa.

Thank you.

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