Pretoria - Last month, our multiparty coalition government in the City of Tshwane marked one solid year in office.
I have always maintained that the City of Tshwane coalition is stable at the local level, and I have made it my priority to keep healthy relations with all coalition partners by engaging regularly and making sure that we iron out whatever differences we may have.
Our coalition government consists of the DA, ActionSA, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party, IFP and Congress of the People.
It is well known that we came together to form the City of Tshwane coalition government after the results of the November 2021 local government elections.
Looking at the current political landscape, it would seem that coalitions are here to stay. This means that all elected parties have a responsibility to make coalition governments work and deliver services to our residents, instead of engaging in petty political squabbles.
What I have observed in the past 12 months is that we can work well together and align our priorities at the local level so that we address the core needs of our residents.
This has led me to believe that coalitions at the local level can set the benchmark for how we work together at a provincial or national level, with 2024 now slowly drawing near.
There is no doubt that in Gauteng, in particular, a coalition will rise as the ANC is well below 50% in this province.
Of course, there are challenges that may emerge locally or even nationally between coalition partners, but it is important that we work through them.
In doing this, the City of Tshwane has remained stable and focused on the core work of the City as we seek to prioritise the financial sustainability of the institution and drive basic service delivery.
Our council voting block has remained stable and strong. In its desperation to sabotage the work of the coalition, the ANC has repeatedly tried to disrupt our council meetings in the council chamber. We have dealt with this swiftly by moving our meetings online, which has effectively neutralised these needless political disruptions.
As long as we continue to work collaboratively together, there will be no need for so-called “king makers” in our city. However, having a stable majority does not mean that it is easy managing a coalition with different political interests. It is a tough job, especially with the added pressure of governing a large metro such as the City of Tshwane.
The reality is that we have many service delivery challenges in the City of Tshwane, many of which are deeply systematic and go back decades.
In relation to infrastructure, we are finding that a lack of proactive maintenance and planning that should have taken place two decades ago is now haunting the City.
In relation to City finances, the R4.3 billion deficit left by the ANC administrators who were unlawfully deployed in the City requires continuous management.
It is going to take time to fix the City of Tshwane, and while I understand that residents are frustrated, we, as a coalition government, are fully committed to working together to solve these issues.
The turning of this ship is slow, but we are gradually getting there. Since the start of this year, we have run an aggressive revenue campaign, and over the past few months we have continuously seen our revenue collection average over R3bn a month. This is helping us to manage our liquidity.
We are not out of the woods yet, and the financial recovery of the City is expected to take at least another two years. This is a long-term project that we must remain committed to.
Our water and electricity infrastructure is a top priority now, and we are in a race against time. The continued Eskom load shedding is wreaking havoc across the City’s ageing electricity grid, and a large part of our work is continuously responding to outages or damage to infrastructure due to prolonged load shedding.
This is why we have prioritised substation refurbishment in Tshwane. We recently upgraded substations in Bronkhorstspruit, Kosmosdal and Soshanguve.
We have a number of ongoing projects as well.
We are directing our focus to the core work of the City by repairing potholes, fixing street lights, conducting urban management and timeously responding to water pipe bursts and electricity outages. This is what residents pay for and what they expect from us.
And while we do this, massive developments are happening in Tshwane, which we must enable.
An estimated R7bn in investment in the property development sector has been processed in applications this year. This means further infrastructure development and more jobs.
Our Townlands Social Housing Project is nearing completion and beginning to take occupation. This is the largest social housing project in the country and will place thousands of families close to economic opportunities.
I will admit that service delivery levels in the City are not where we would like them to be, but we will get there in time if we are given the space to govern without political interruptions and attempts to collapse the coalition government.
Our Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) Drug Unit has been actively combating the drug trade.
Even though this is an area that is not even defined within their mandate, the TMPD has had two successful major drug busts over the past few months – one with an estimated street value of about R700 million, where 11 suspects were arrested, and a second drug bust with an estimated street value of R500m, where five suspects were arrested.
Overall, the TMPD has confiscated illegal drugs such as crystal meth, nyaope, cocaine and heroin with a street value of more than R1.7m. The TMPD has also arrested 226 individuals for various drug-related offences.
These are just some of our achievements as a coalition government, but there are many others as well. This is why we must stay focused and united in ensuring that our city is able to grow and develop.