DA leader Mmusi Maimane. File photo: ANA

Johannesburg - The people of Gauteng are leading the nation in voting for a better government and brighter future for themselves, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.

Speaking during a voter registration drive in Kaalfontein, Johannesburg, Maimane urged residents to register to vote in the 2019 general election, saying Gauteng had shown that change only came at the ballot box, where citizens showed the powerful and corrupt politicians who were in charge.

In the previous general election in 2014 the African National Congress held on to power in Gauteng "by the skin of their teeth". They were three percent away from losing Gauteng. That election began the province-wide movement to bring real change. In the 2016 local government elections the people chose new governments in the City of Johannesburg, as well as in the capital City of Tshwane, he said.

"This was a seminal moment in our young democracy and showed politicians from across the spectrum that we are a nation of active citizens who will unapologetically hold the government to account. As leader of the DA, I want to both welcome and encourage this core tenet of democracy, and urge citizens to fearlessly hold every political party to account at the ballot box – the DA included. The power is and always will be in the hands of the people, not politicians," Maimane said.

Over the past year and a half, the people of Gauteng had chosen change, and seen the fruits of this change. In Johannesburg, under mayor Herman Mashaba, the DA-led government had begun to bring total change and roll back the over two decades of neglect.

Within 18 months the DA-led government had, among other things, uncovered close to R17 billion in fraud and corruption, with almost 100 employee suspensions, 13 employee resignations, and nine dismissals for involvement in corrupt and suspicious dealings and allocated R10 million for establishing opportunity centres which would provide much needed training for prospective entrepreneurs and job seekers, It had set aside R12 million to provide for on-the-job artisan training for 340 youths within the city, and more than doubled the previous sanitation budget, increasing it from R17 million to R40 million.

The DA-led government had further saved almost R500 million through the introduction of cost-cutting measures focused on reducing self-promoting advertising, marketing, domestic and international travel, consulting and professional fees, and conferences and seminars.

It had also rolled out extended operating hours at 13 clinics across Johannesburg, including clinics in Princess Park, Freedom Park, Randburg, Protea Glen, El Dorado Park, and Zandspruit, and was working towards ensuring that a cleaner living environment was not reserved for just a few by setting aside R482 million within Pikitup’s budget for cleaning informal settlements over the next three financial years.

Further, R1.9 billion had been allocated to upgrade 50 informal settlements in the medium-term, three new fire engines had been acquired to increase the city’s ability to secure the safety of residents; and a brand new K9 narcotics unit had been launched to tackle hijackings, robberies, bombs, kidnappings, and drug-related incidents.

"Those who are elected into public office are servants of the people. And for as long as I am the leader of the DA, our party will always be a service delivery orientated party. We ask you to lend us your vote for five years, and if you feel we have failed you, vote us out. That is democracy. And that is why I am so passionate about getting every South African out to register to vote in next year’s election," Maimane said.

African News Agency/ANA