The City of Cape Town has been repeatedly attacked on the grounds of not delivering to all citizens. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town - During this election season, the City of Cape Town has been placed under the spotlight by opposition parties and commentators alike. Again and again, our record as the leading provider of service delivery in the country has been reaffirmed. I am proud of this, and the citizens of Cape Town should be too.
All too often in the heat of electoral battle, the truth is the first casualty. The city has been repeatedly attacked on the grounds of not delivering to all citizens. Nothing could be further from the truth. The facts speak for themselves. Cape Town spends more than 67 percent of its budget on previously disadvantaged areas. This is part of a deliberate strategy of redress aimed at righting the wrongs of our apartheid past.
This focused strategy has seen sustained investment in poorer areas. In the past financial year alone we spent R1 billion on water, electricity, solid waste and sanitation services in informal settlements. This investment has led to real and lasting improvements.
Under the DA, the number of toilets in informal settlements has increased from 14 000 in 2006 to over 43 000 in 2014. We have electrified all informal settlements in city supply areas, and the city is now funding Eskom to ensure that in the areas they supply, more than 20 000 new connections will be made.
We have gone further to improve waste collection, with the city now having introduced a weekend waste collection service, on top of the weekly door-to-door system currently in place. We are also pioneering other innovations such as the janitorial programme and the provision of services to backyarders. Both programmes are unique to Cape Town and evidence of our pro-poor approach.
We are spending over R500 million replacing apartheid-era concrete roads in areas such as Gugulethu and Bonteheuwel. We are continually expanding the MyCiTi service. In the last few months, new routes have been added – servicing areas from Hout Bay, all the way to Atlantis.
We have seen a massive increase in passenger numbers as we build a truly connected city. This is a life-changing investment, which allows a child living in Imizamo Yethu access on safe, reliable public transport to city amenities such as the Sea Point public swimming pool.
We continue to invest massive resources into expanding our broadband network so that, in time, historically underserviced areas can access the range of opportunities presented by the information super highway.
To provide economic relief to those who need it most, we provide the most extensive basket of free basic services in the country and we have the most successful Expanded Public Works Programme in South Africa. This programme saw over 35 000 work opportunities being created in the last financial year alone.
We have also written off R160m worth of arrears on housing selling scheme loans, providing real assistance to those who need it most. We also amended the city’s tariff policy to ensure that all qualifying Khayelitsha residents could receive free basic electricity, by removing the 20 Amps restriction that was previously contained in this policy. Unbelievably, the ANC voted against this amendment and in so doing voted against the poor.
We have acted to build an inclusive city, recognising leaders across the political spectrum and civil society through an inclusive renaming process and have done away with the much hated NY designation.
All the while, the work of the city is guided by a commitment to good governance. Cape Town is the only metro to have achieved a clean audit – clear proof of our commitment to corruption-free government. We have also received the highest possible credit rating from independent agencies in relation to our sovereign rating – yet more evidence that we manage the city on a financially sound basis.
There is a clearly a good story to tell about Cape Town. This story is one of inclusive and quality delivery to all citizens. Despite what some may claim, the evidence is overwhelming that the city really is making progress possible, together.
* Patricia de Lille is the executive mayor of Cape Town.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.