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The DA has promised to turn Pretoria’s fortunes around if it gets a mandate from voters to govern the city over the next five years.
“We are confident that we have a plan to turn the city around. There are a number of battles to be won, but we know we will do it,” said Brandon Topham, the party’s mayoral candidate for the local government elections on May 18.
Topham, who is also the chairman of the party’s Gauteng North region, is regarded as someone who unites people around shared values, goals and aspirations.
“As a politician I care deeply about the wellbeing of people and their future. My aim is to make the Tshwane metropole a city where people from all walks of life can pursue their dreams and live the lives they choose to live,” he said.
Topham is committed to champion good and clean government underscored by transparency, accountability and effectiveness.
“I am firmly committed to creating an employment-generating environment. I realise the paramount importance of economic development that is needed to achieve the growth, progress and stability that is needed to build a strong and prosperous society.
“I am cognisant of the fact that the mayoral position is an unremitting responsibility.”
Topham joined the DA six years ago and came in as a proportional representative in the 2006 local government elections.
“I scraped through. I was at the bottom of the list (of DA proportional representatives).
“I was new in politics and did not have a track record,” he said.
Topham said he supported the ANC in his youth after taking part in an English Olympiad where an anthology of African poetry was part of the project.
“This was the first time when I understood what apartheid was. As young white South Africans we lived in an isolated world.”
He decided to stop supporting the ANC after becoming “disillusioned with the (party’s) application of politics”.
Topham’s priorities include fighting corruption, changing the attitude of council employees, ensuring that there is no political interference in the running of council departments, improved service delivery and bolstering the council’s service delivery team.
“There are a lot of good people in the city who want to do their work well,” he said.
Topham said morale among staff needed to be high, “because there will not be proper service delivery if the morale among staff is low”. Topham, who is a qualified chartered account and attorney, said his business skills would assist him in running the city in a professional way.
He said the DA would look at the possibility of increasing staff in the customer service department.
“We are looking at having a team of about 200 people who will be able to attend to the problems raised by residents and deal with the backlog,” he said.
According to Topham, there is a huge infrastructure backlog, especially in areas north of the city.
The capital budget should be used for the construction of new roads, the provision of stormwater drainage systems in the various residential areas and the installation of electricity and water-borne sewerage, he said.
Topham said the DA would also look into the question of people who travelled between Pretoria and Joburg on a daily basis, for work purposes.
“We need to find out what can be done to entice these companies to create satellite offices in the city (Pretoria). There are a lot of opportunities the municipality can create if these companies opt to create satellite offices in Pretoria,” he said.
Topham criticised the city’s public transport system, which he said is in “disarray”.
This comes after the municipality’s decision to fire workers who took part in a protest on March 3. A municipal worker, Jan Msiza, was killed when strikers clashed with police.
Topham said the DA would also tackle issues related to problems within the Tshwane metro police.
According to Topham, the metro police are not visible in the various residential areas because they do not have the necessary equipment.
“They cannot move around because they do not have equipment and transport.”
Topham said another issue which needed to be tackled related to traffic wardens, who had been overlooked by the metro police management.
A few weeks ago, a number of traffic wardens complained to the Pretoria News about the fact that they had been overlooked when it came to the filling of posts.
They claimed that though they met the criteria set for the recruitment of metro police officers, they were not considered for these posts.
“The metro police should do away with the arbitrary process of who gets employed,” he said.
Topham said he was confident the DA would do well in the forthcoming elections.
The party had allocated running mates for its candidates in specific wards.
“We are also accelerating community work. We understand the needs of all residents,” he said.
Topham said he was happy with the contribution he had made within the DA. “I have played an active role,” he said. - Pretoria News