NEC Members of the UDM
Members and Supporters of the United Democratic Movement
Welcome one and all, and thank you for making the effort to come and listen to the vision which the United Democratic Movement (UDM) has for people of Gauteng.
In just over three months’ time, you will have an opportunity to have your say in which party should govern your municipalities. Through the ballot box, on the 3rd of August, you have an opportunity to lay foundations for change for the better and create hope for the future.
As a voter, it is up to you to set a new agenda. You have the power to say what are the real priorities; as opposed to the elite projects (such as speed trains, automated tolling, etc.) which contribute nothing to your life and only enrich the politically-connected. It is time to PUT COMMUNITY FIRST by prioritising service delivery and removing the politicians and parties that stand in the way of that.
GAUTENG AS OUR FLAGSHIP PROVINCE
Gauteng is the gateway to South Africa and is the economic hub of our country. Yet, we witness how our people struggle to find work and struggle to find a decent home to live in.
There are disconcerting signs that our infrastructure is in distress. If you walk down our streets you will see paint flaking from the walls and roofs of the buildings. It is a sad and ugly sight. No-one respects the bylaws and they are definitely not enforced. Our CBDs are fast becoming unhygienic slums threatening community health.
UDM Councils will be proactive in identifying problem areas, with the help of communities, to ensure that dilapidated buildings are inspected. Owners will be forced to bring buildings up to standard and to maintain them. This will not only ensure a safe living environment, but is a win-win strategy to reduce crime and increase property values.
PRIORITIES OF MUNICIPALITIES
It is clear that the councils and municipalities in this province has not done well and in some cases failed completely.
In far too many municipalities the councils have their priorities all wrong. For example, in which universe does a council approve millions of Rands to be spent on a mayoral soccer extravaganza whilst they owe millions of Rands for electricity and water. Yet, this happened.
Whilst our people are jobless and homeless, councils throw mammoth parties with taxpayers’ money.
When you, the voter, go to the ballot box in August, you must think of putting leadership in place that will not forsake the needs of the people with frivolous expenditures. The UDM has the right people and the right plans to make sure that council monies are spent on the bread-and-butter needs.
SPATIAL DEVELOPMENT AND DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS
People see Gauteng as the duck that lays the golden eggs, and yet when they come to Johannesburg or Pretoria they are in for a rude awakening.
Job hunting aside, one of the first things people need is a roof over their heads. Our townships have become a deposit ground for the homeless. People build their meagre shacks wherever they find an open space. Out of desperation, these buildings arise near landfills and floodplains which are extremely dangerous. The rats that infest these areas are disease ridden and are so big they even attack people.
UDM councils will make spatial development programmes an immediate priority. People who have built their shacks in dangerous areas must be assisted immediately and measures taken to prevent others from building there.
The long-term solution to these problems is the acceleration of housing programmes. The UDM will make adequate housing, in conjunction with provincial and national authorities, one of the highest priorities in those councils where we govern. Local government would immediately make land available for development and infrastructure development will be monitored by both the national department and a municipality.
LIVING IN A CLEAN AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT: THE JUKSKEI AS AN EXAMPLE
Johannesburg’s official waste management service provider states that their mission is to keep the city clean and preserve an attractive and hygienic environment for residents and visitors.
Yet, this commendable vision only seems to only apply to certain areas of the city, and only when the company’s workers are not on strike.
Let us take areas near the Jukskei River… It is heavily polluted by urban runoff and lack of infrastructure maintenance has let raw waste flow into the river on a daily basis. Outbreaks of cholera are prevalent. Tons of waste such as plastic, metal and rubber flow down the river annually.
Aside from the environmental damage the river suffers, many people in Alexandra Township access this water for washing, drinking, and cooking. This is an appalling indictment against the City of Johannesburg.
The UDM believes that the problem can be addressed by finding a simple solution closer to the people. A UDM-led municipality will help the people to help themselves by creating small businesses, owned by the community, that will be responsible for cleaning the area they live in. This way jobs are created, people can claim ownership of their environment and all can live in a decent, healthy space.
POLITICISING MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS; THE CAPE TOWN EXAMPLE
Municipal affairs are, more often than not, politicised to the extent that political parties block each other at every road simply for the joy of derailing each other. This political obstinacy has only one effect: the people suffer.
The citizens of the Cape Flats live in abject poverty and squalor and for what?
Government, whether it be at local, provincial or national levels have one purpose: that is to work for the betterment of our people.
The UDM has a track-record of working with other parties and we will continue our philosophy of doing just that: working with our colleagues to make life liveable for our people irrespective of political affiliation.
RATES AND TAXES
For years the billing system for rates and taxes in Johannesburg, in particular, has made headline news. Despite assurances that the city has sorted out its mess, the administration continues to battle a large deficit, partly due to poor management and collapsing infrastructure, and partly due to its failure to collect rates and service fees in areas where there is a high rate of illegal usage and/or payment defaults for legitimately supplied utilities.
In a UDM-led council, this administrative incompetence will not be tolerated. It is clear that our cities and towns are in need of well trained, competent officials to administer billing systems. In order to get to the bottom of this mess an extensive skills-audit needs to be done immediately and corrective action taken.
ADDRESSING PROBLEMS OF A COMMUNITY AS COLLECTIVE
Unfortunately our people have reached levels of frustration which leads to lawlessness and violence. When they vent their dissatisfaction with service delivery the effects are mostly felt at local level whilst the problems might not necessarily be addressed at that level.
In some instances, a councillor will be approached to solve a service delivery problem in the community, but he/she might not be capacitated to address the problem. Very easily that councillor becomes a scapegoat and suffers the wrath of the community.
The UDM proposed that small crises committees be instituted that have all the necessary technical expertise to assist councillors in their work. Once dissatisfaction arises within a community, a quick call to such a crises committee can be made. If it is a simple problem of a burst pipe, engineers can be dispatched or if a more a complex problem, meetings can be arranged with complainants and solutions found as a collective.
IMPORTANCE OF THE 3 TIERS OF GOVERNMENT WORKING TOGETHER
As I have mentioned earlier, our people vent their frustration on the streets where they live. Whether the problem actually lies with national, provincial or local government becomes quite irrelevant. An ordinary citizen will try to find a solution closest to home and that sometimes mean that the blame is laid at a municipality’s door.
To prevent this from happening, the UDM believes that it is crucial that all three tiers of government must work much closer when they are planning and budgeting. In other words, the problem must be identified and stopped before it becomes a reality.
UDM Councils will therefore be proactive in creating fruitful partnerships with their counterparts higher up in government in an effort to prevent crises before they occur.
PUTTING COMMUNITY FIRST
The time for citizens to take control of their lives and dictate their destiny is now. Join the United Democratic Movement in its call – “PUT COMMUNITY FIRST”.
· Putting Community First, means: working together with the South African Police Service, businesses and the community, bring closer to the people, satellite police stations. It also means, empowerment of local community safety organisations like neighbourhood watches.
· Putting Community First, means: fair and proper valuation of all properties, and stopping the excessive property rates. It also means, ensuring that the correct residents are accurately billed for services they actually receive.
· Putting Community First, means: access to basic services to the poorest of the poor without being charged. This also means scrapping any Apartheid-era arrears and strengthening of the rolling out of the indigence policy.
· Putting Community First, means: collection of refuse on a regular basis, cleaning of streets, parks, pest and rodent control and promoting income generation through recycling.
· Putting Community First, means: no abuse of office power, immediate action against all officials and councilors found to be involved in corrupt activities. It means rooting out any attempt to award municipal tenders to people with personal or family ties to council employees and councilors. It also means, the tendering system shall be transparent, unbiased and open to public scrutiny.
We have so much work to do, the need is great. But we can do this, we can rise above the current disaster in local government. Let us vote for a party and councillors dedicated to joining hands with their communities.
This local government election is our chance to show that it can be done. Starting in the streets where we live, we can build something greater, something better, to improve the lives of our families and loved ones.
The UDM has stood the test of time and has been consistent in its efforts to make South Africa a Winning Nation.
To vote for the UDM is to vote a better future for you and your loved ones.