Ed Herbst: Dysfunctional ANC municipalities yet protests target efficient DA-run metros

CAPE TOWN — Cynical, selective geo-political protests around pit toilets and service delivery have targeted the DA which, wherever it rules afresh or more recently, comes under ANC-inspired attack. This is in spite, or perhaps because of, the newly-muscled party, now ruling the most important metros in the country, having uncovering breath-taking corruption and dysfunction wherever it took over. Not only that, says Ed Herbst in this telling analysis/historical overview, an audit of 263 municipalities shows that the DA’s councils are better run with only the Cape Town Metro receiving a clean financial bill of health. Contrast that with the country’s worst tender-rules transgressor, the ANC-run Durban Metropole where 377 tender declarations were found to be fraudulent by the Auditor General. His report also shows that irregular expenditure characterises half of all ANC-run municipalities, to a cost of R17 billion. Opinion is one thing, but when it’s backed by these kind of facts, it becomes evidence. That begs another kind of audit; how many municipal officials have actually been charged with fraud in relation to the AG’s findings? And how many were found guilty? My guess is it’s a criminally low percentage of transgressions. We have to ask why. – Chris Bateman

Cartoonist Zapiro gives his views on why the ANC has lost so much ground in the 2016 Municipal Elections. More magic available at www.zapiro.com

By Ed Herbst* 

Many municipal councils under ANC control had become little more than thieves’ banquets, with local mayors and councillors feasting off ratepayer’s munificence and skimming a percentage off public tenders and contracts. South Africa’s coastal cities and hinterland had become places where officials and councillors positioned themselves to take advantage of their office on the basis, as the old adage went, of ‘get your snout in trough or you’ll freeze in the cold’.

Tony Leon On the Contrary – Leading the Opposition in a Democratic South Africa Jonathan Ball (2008)

This is the lunatic dance we’re watching: they cringe away from responsibility and principle and the vastly damning verdict of posterity; and yet they still strain forward, hands grasping, groping towards the heap of treasure they hope will fill the weeping hole where their conscience and purpose once lived.

Tom Eaton The Times 20/6/2016

For the people of Oudtshoorn, the dark years of the ANC’s corrupt governance are slowly turning to light.

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

In Johannesburg, the Democratic Alliance is slowly exposing, layer by layer, the havoc of two decades of vulturine theft, indolence, incompetence and decay by the African National Congress and its illegally-deployed cadres.

In Cape Town we know all about this, not least because the front page lead in Business Day on 22 June was headlined DA’s Western Cape councils ‘better run’ – Audits of 263 municipalities released – Cape Town only metro to receive clean bill of health.

Eighty percent of the municipalities in the DA-controlled Western Cape got clean audits.

The Auditor General Kimi Makwetu also revealed that the ANC-controlled Durban municipality is the worst transgressor when it comes to tender fraud for awarding tenders to 377 suppliers with fraudulent declarations.

The ‘capacity challenges’ created by two decades of ANC mismanagement  and ethnic purges at all levels of government is further manifest in the spending on consultants – R3.5 billion –  with the worst offenders being Limpopo, North West and the Northern Cape. All have been subjugated by the African National Congress.

Irregular expenditure in ANC-controlled municipalities – the result of financial control regulations being ignored – has increased by 50% to almost R17 billion showing that the Zuptoids are determined to maintain and, if possible, increase the gravy levels in the trough.

Sixty of our hundred biggest municipalities are in financial trouble and, of these, 42 are not financially viable.

Ballooning debt

The Beloved Country is imploding financially. In addition to the ANC-created yoke of corruption we now know that there are more people on social grants than there are people with jobs and that the ANC government is now spending more on servicing its ballooning debt than it pays out in social grants to the poor. All this with a dwindling tax base as its actions cause more and more skilled people to seek their destiny in countries where their ethnicity and political affiliation will not be an impediment to their progress as was the case under the National Party  in the apartheid era and is the case again under the African National Congress.

Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma’s ruling ANC cheer at a rally to launch the party’s local government election manifesto in Port Elizabeth, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

One of the push factors in this regard is the realisation that, thanks again to the African National Congress, we are running out of water.

In a recent article on this topic I highlighted the dire state of wastewater treatment plants in ANC-controlled municipalities and its pollution for profit of our mountain catchment areas.

So how does the Cape Town municipality compare in this regard?

On 2 February 2009 while I was working in the media department of the Cape Town municipality, the then mayor Helen Zille made a speech in council which throws important light on this topic.

She disclosed that while the municipality comes under constant attack by the ANC for its alleged failure to deliver services to poor areas and constantly faces the accusation that it is only interested in the “leafy suburbs”, there was a concerted, deliberate and well-organised program of sabotage which sought to enhance exactly the perception that the DA is a white party which does not care for or about the poor.

Here is the relevant extract from her speech on that day:

“The City of Cape Town’s major programme to install and upgrade services in informal settlements is being destroyed by crime and vandalism. For every R3 that we spend on basic services in our 222 informal settlements, R2 is spent on repairs to vandalised and stolen infrastructure. Without this problem, we could deliver services at three times the speed we currently do.”

Keep in mind that this is happening in areas of Cape Town which are under ANC control and that this started happening years before the ANC started paying Bell Pottinger. Or started setting up Fake News ‘War Rooms’.

A year after Zille’s speech, Cape Town swarmed with international journalists in anticipation of the coming FIFA Soccer World Cup. Realising the potential of this to bolster its anti-white and anti-Democratic Alliance vendetta on the international stage, the ANC and its affiliates resorted to further sabotage to bolster its lies.

The ANCYL complained in 2010 that 55 families in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, were forced to relieve themselves in full public view, an allegation which Helen Zille refuted.

Deliberate sabotage

Unsurprisingly, the ANC and its affiliates have not sought to create that sort of publicity, neither has it indulged in that sort of deliberate sabotage with regard to the pervasive extent of pit toilets in the areas under its political control. It has also not publicised the fact that it has turned this very basic human need into a trough.

It has, however, sought to avoid accountability in this regard.

In 2003 Marthinus van Schalkwyk’s floor crossing gave control to the ANC of the Western Cape provincial administration and the Cape Town municipality and thus unleashed a typical looting spree which cost rate and taxpayers billions in tender fraud perpetrated in just three years before the snouters were ousted through the ballot box.

When I joined media department of the Cape Town municipality in 2007 I was told that within days of the ANC gaining control in 2003, deployed cadres were parachuted in from around the country and they all knew one another. Within hours they were roaming the corridors of the Civic Centre claiming the best paintings for their offices and within days they were ordering bespoke furniture – rosewood was the preferred choice. Within weeks they were flying all over South Africa to ‘attend conferences’ – always flying first class and always staying at the best hotels, of course. Within months they were attending conferences all over the world.

Prior to this the ANC had set the stage for the forthcoming and predictable embezzlement through a pre-planned purge of senior white officials because they were perceived to be gatekeepers who might prevent the tender scams which were to follow. Senior managers were simply told that ‘in the interests of transformation’ they were to be replaced by their juniors who were not white. They could however, accept a very generous retrenchment package that was on offer – funded of course by rate and tax payers. This ethnic, Idi Amin-type purge cost the municipality R80 million in severance pay-outs and lost untold centuries of corporate memory, institutional knowledge and skills transfer potential as about 100 senior managers saw what was coming and left.

The next vital step for the ANC was to close all the municipal meetings which, under the previous DA administration, had been open to the public. The most important for them, obviously, were the tender meetings. Thereafter followed an orgy of plunder over the next three years with tender scams like Big Bay 1 &2, Jewellery City, BTH Transport, Thubelisha Homes and many others. Exactly the same thing happened at provincial level.

The radio and television news reporters in the state broadcaster’s Cape Town office, of which I was one, were not allowed to report on these scandals which were headlined virtually daily in opposition media, but I would like to share just one with you:

CAPE ARGUS: Monday (Feb 14, 2005)

Big Bay row takes new twist

By: Ashley Smith & Henri du Plessis

The scandal around the handing out of discounted luxury Big Bay beach plots to corporations with links to political parties has deepened with the disclosure that Cape Town manager Wallace Mgoqi’s wife Dolly was – until two weeks ago – a shareholder in one of the companies.

The Cape Argus can reveal today that Dolly Mgoqi was a shareholder in Nationbuild Investments-one of 17 companies that were given three or more plots each at heavily discounted prices by the ANC–run City of Cape Town.

At the time Dolly Mgoqi was unknown in the property development sphere but this exposé by the Argus gave Capetonians their first inkling of the political rapine which was to come, their first glimmering that the African National Congress is, in essence, a criminal enterprise which constantly and brazenly steals the money originally intended for uplifting the poor, how nothing is sacred anymore.

The extent to which the Democratic Alliance has managed to turn this situation around is manifest in the most recent report by the Auditor General who found that the Cape Town municipality was the only metropolitan municipality to receive a clean audit in the 2015-2016 financial year.

Schoolgirls walk past election posters for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, ahead of local government elections, July 29, 2016. Picture taken July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Staff/Joe Brock

Self-enrichment credo.

To what extent, then, is the Cape Town municipality now managing to cope with the maintenance of its wastewater treatment plants and the provision of toilets in a city which experiences a daily influx of people fleeing the Eastern Cape, a province that has been rendered dysfunctional by two decades of the ANC’s self-enrichment credo?

I approached Xanthea Limberg, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, and asked what the budget expenditure was in this regard. Her response, below, is in italics:

Capital expenditure for wastewater treatment plants:

FY2011/12:   R223 192 549 = 97,2% of budget

FY2012/13:   R164 651 378 = 97,07% of budget

FY2013/14:   R160 683 965 = 92,6% of budget

FY2014/15:   R275 398 098 = 100% of budget

FY2015/16:   R354 170 093 = 100% of budget

Note that this is only the capital expenditure for the Wastewater Treatment Plant to upgrade, extend and for the refurbishment/replacement of equipment. This excludes the normal operating and research and maintenance expenditure.

The City’s plants are managed to the highest standard. Currently, about 7% of wastewater is treated for reuse for non-drinking purposes. The City is however embarking on a progressive new programme to invest in great reclamation of wastewater. The City’s plan is to implement water reclamation projects as part of its overall water supply strategy over the short- to medium-term. The preliminary phase of this project is under way.

This is an indication that we have the basics in place to aggressively move ahead in becoming a more water-sensitive city, where all resources are used.

Adequate toilet facilities

I also asked what the Cape Town municipality was doing to provide townships with adequate toilet facilities:

Improved sanitation was one of the key deliverables identified by post-apartheid administrations and, as such, the issue has become one of the primary yardsticks by which municipalities are judged. In many urban contexts however, the provision of full-flush sanitation is simply impossible and options need to be found within the parameters of what is legally and structurally possible.

Our commitment to the installation of full-flush toilets, where possible, is clear. Since 2006, the proportion of full-flush toilets has increased from 16% to 31% of total toilet provision. Overall, the City of Cape Town, has increased the ratio of toilets to households from 1:9,6 to 1:4,3 despite the pressures brought on as a result of population increase.

Specifically, over the years, there has been an increase in the requests received for portable flush toilets (PFTs) which has led to the distribution of more than 20 000 PFTs to informal communities over the past few years. While PFTs are not a preferred or permanent option, they provide a safe and hygienic toilet that the City cleans three times a week.

Many communities are serviced by full-flush toilets or, where the installation of waterborne infrastructure is constrained due to topography, population  density and land ownership, among other challenges, chemical and container toilets are provided.

The City will always, where possible, prefer to install full-flush toilets, but additional alternative sanitation options, such as PFTs, offer a reliable option in some circumstances at this point of the journey.

In the 2017/18 financial year, city-wide for our Informal Settlements and Backyarder Department, R233,4 million in operating expenditure has been allocated for the installation and maintenance of sanitation facilities in the informal settlements programme.

This is direct spend on infrastructure in the informal settlements and does not cover the cost of providing the free water and sanitation or the larger bulk infrastructure that is required for these services, such as reticulation and wastewater treatments.

It also does not include water and sanitation installations that form part of upgrade or re-blocking programmes.

What this says is that if James and Rosina Komape had moved to Cape Town instead of staying in an area subjugated and suborned for political profit by the ANC, their son Michael would still be alive today.

As the ANC snouters constantly come up with fresh threats to our water resources, our only hope is a change of government in the 2019 elections.

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.
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