John Steenhuisen says a good local govt can go a long way to protect citizens from a failing state
15 September 2021
National elections get most of the attention, but it is at local government level where the foundations for a prosperous future are built. A good local government can go a long way to protect citizens from a failing state. A very good local government can buck the trend entirely and move a city forward in a country sliding backward. Nowhere is this more evident than in Cape Town, the best-run metro in South Africa.
Record of delivery
In a country regressing under the weight of ANC failure, here is a city that is working, building a secure future for all who live there. The DA has run Cape Town for fifteen years now – the first five in coalition and the last ten with an outright majority. In so doing, we’ve produced a track record of consistent delivery that we can put forward to voters as proof of our offer to get things done for them. No other party on the ballot paper can do this.
Sustained delivery is only possible on a foundation of clean and effective governance. DA-run Cape Town has achieved 15 consecutive unqualified annual audits due to a strong anti-corruption stance – the only metro in SA that has achieved this. All suppliers are paid withing 30 days and those who fail to deliver to residents are blacklisted from doing business with the City.
Which is why Cape Town has been voted the most trusted metro in the country for seven years in a row in the Consulta Citizen Satisfaction Index. Its 98.9% average payment collection rate for municipal bills is evidence of the trust residents have in the City’s service delivery and governance.
In July 2020, the Ratings Afrika Sustainability Survey rated Cape Town the only metro that could be considered sustainable, with the capacity to absorb the financial shocks associated with the pandemic. Walking the talk in tough times, the City cut R460 million from staff-related expenditure in 2021/22 and is the only metro to publish covid-related procurement online, in line with its commitment to transparency and accountability.
The City has a pro-poor delivery record, with 40% of households receiving free basic water and sanitation services, double the national averages of 21.8% and 18.7% respectively, with Gauteng at 15.6% and 17.4% (StatsSA). Likewise, 27% of city-supplied households receive free basic electricity against a national average of 16.7%, with Gauteng at 15.4%.
Going forward, three key DA offers to Cape Town residents is to fight crime, end load shedding and create jobs. The City is already delivering on each of these fronts, with plans for much more in future, so as to protect residents from national government delivery failures.
Law Enforcement has tripled the arrest rate since 2016, following a 55% increase in the safety and security budget in the past five years, and the R3bn Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) to put more boots on the ground.
Together with communities, the City and provincial government have been building Cape Town’s neighbourhood watch (NW) network for 15 years, including training, accrediting and equipping them to serve as “force multipliers” together with SAPS, Metro Police, Law Enforcement, and private security in a seamless functional system. Cape Town is the only metro, in the only province, empowered by legislation to accredit, equip and train NWs. The City and Province are together supporting 197 accredited NWs in the metro, totaling 8000 trained members.
To keep school children safe, the City has a Walking Bus programme in 75 areas, with over 2000 parents and volunteers from the community ensuring learners travel safely to 222 schools. It has also deployed over 50 dedicated School Resource Officers to improve safety at high-risk schools.
The City has doubled the number of surveillance cameras in Cape Town since 2016, from 433 to 835 CCTV cameras, with a record 15 390 incidents captured and 267 arrests in 2020/21. Since 2016, Metro Police have made almost 7000 drug arrests and confiscated 113 460 drug units, while traffic services have made over 13 694 drunk driving arrests and impounded 22 114 taxis for various offences.
Cape Town received ‘role model city’ status from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. It is South Africa’s leading City for firefighting services, with 32 fire stations, over 1210 firefighting and operational staff, and a 350-strong fleet bringing 95% of all wildfires under control within the first hour of reporting.
Ending load shedding
Cape Town is the only metro able to protect residents and businesses from Eskom’s load shedding. It does this through the city owned and operated Steenbras hydroelectric pumped storage scheme.
During periods of peak demand, water from the upper dam is channeled through the turbine generator to create electricity. This water is then pumped back up to the upper dam at night using low-cost surplus national generating capacity.
The spare electricity generated is used to make up for supply shortfalls from Eskom, reducing load shedding by one stage or avoiding it altogether. This innovation mitigates both the economic impact and inconvenience of load shedding and saves on the cost of buying electricity at peak rates.
Cape Town is also leading the charge to diversify energy supply and is the most energy efficient city in South Africa, with energy-efficient lamps in all traffic lights and 34% of streetlights.
Cape Town has the lowest broad unemployment rate of all metros, consistently over 10 percentage points lower than Gauteng and 14 percentage points below the national average.
Despite a net outflow of foreign direct investment from South Africa, Cape Town is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for foreign direct investment, according to the African Tech Ecosystems of the Future 2021/22 report. This is due to its good investment incentives policy and reliable service delivery.
Cape Town is ranked the top financial centre in sub-Saharan Africa and is the tech start-up capital of Africa, with about 50 000 people employed in this sector, more than Lagos and Nairobi combined. It was named World’s leading Festival and Events City in the World Travel Awards in 2018 and 2020. The Air Access initiative secured 22 new international air travel routes and 26 route expansions, doubling the international seat capacity of Cape Town International Airport prior to the pandemic.
Local government is the coalface of delivery. The effect of solid DA delivery in Cape Town has been to form a protective barrier for Cape Town residents, securing their future in South Africa.
Mayoral candidate, Geordin Hill-Lewis, has the vision and the drive to take Cape Town from good to great.
It is three days to go until registration weekend. Please make sure you are registered in the ward where you live to vote DA in the local election on 1 November. Because only the DA can prove that we get things done. Only the DA can secure your future in South Africa. Only the DA offers both effective government and strong opposition. Only the DA has a record of action, and a promise of more.