OPINION

What the DA's achieved in Drakenstein - Mmusi Maimane

Municipality was falling deeper and deeper into debt, until freed from ANC rule in 2011

We’ve come a long way in Drakenstein. Let’s do the same for SA

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a public meeting in Mbekweni, Wellington. This forms part of the Western Cape leg of the DA’s National #Change19 Tour.

My fellow South Africans

I have come to Mbekweni today as part of my Change 19 Tour. We call it the Change 19 Tour because this is where we speak to people across the length and breadth of the country about the change we need to bring about in South Africa.

I think we all agree – our country is desperate for change. Millions of South Africans have been waiting years, even decades, for the freedom that was promised back in 1994. Yes, much has changed since then, but we are nowhere near achieving this economic freedom for all our people yet.

And with every passing day it becomes clearer that the ANC government has no plan for realising this dream. Instead, we are moving backwards as a country. More people are unemployed than ever before. More people live in poverty. Crime is rising. The cost of living is rising. And all we hear from the ANC these days are stories to cover up their corruption.

The ANC might not have a plan, but the DA certainly does. We have a plan to attract job-creating investment to this municipality. We have a plan to open opportunities for the young people of Drakenstein. We have a plan to make the streets of places like Mbekweni safe again. And with every election we win in municipalities and metros across South Africa, we get to implement more and more of this plan.

The DA has been in government here in the Drakenstein municipality for six years now. And in those six years this local government has seen a lot of changes. When it comes to good governance, it is unrecognisable from the Drakenstein that was run by the ANC before 2011.

During the ANC’s last term in office here, the financial management of the Drakenstein municipality was so poor that every single indicator of financial stability was in decline.

Under the ANC, Drakenstein was falling deeper and deeper into debt. Service delivery was stalling and housing projects were blocked. All the money meant for maintaining infrastructure was spent on operating expenses, and service delivery budget was spent on government salaries and perks.

This local government was heading for disaster, and the only thing that saved it was the 2011 local government elections. Because in those elections, the people of Paarl, Mbekweni, Wellington, Gouda and Saron said to the ANC: “Enough is enough. You’ve had your chance.”

By voting for a DA government in 2011, the people of Drakenstein took it upon themselves to save this municipality from financial disaster. They took their future in their own hands.

The DA has been taking over metros and towns from the ANC for many years now – Cape Town back in 2006, and more recently Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. In all these places we discovered massive hidden debt, widespread corruption and a very poor understanding of how to look after the people’s money. Drakenstein was no different.

But in the six years the DA has been in charge of Drakenstein, we have taken it from a municipality on the brink of financial disaster to one of the best-run local governments in the country. It has just received its third clean audit and it was named by National Treasury, along with Stellenbosch, as the best performing municipality in South Africa when it comes to financial management.

What this means for communities like yours is that all public money is spent on the people. None of it finds its way into the pockets and bank accounts of government officials and their crooked friends, as we see happening so often in ANC-run governments.

The DA government here in Drakenstein has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that fraud and corruption have no place in this municipality. From a special fraud risk management unit to a fraud prevention hotline, the safeguarding of the people’s money so that it can be spent on the things that really matter is a top priority.

And one of the things that matters most is access to housing. Since coming into office, the DA has unblocked all the housing projects that had stalled under the ANC. One by one, dormant projects like Drommedaris, Kingston, White City, Fairyland, Siyahlala and Lantana were revived.

Over the past five years, more than 2100 houses have been handed over to beneficiaries in the Drakenstein municipality. This is a direct result of spending the people’s money where it matters.

This is also why the DA is now able to upgrade the waste water works, re-seal the roads here and electrify hundreds of informal structures.

It is why the DA is able to implement a drought plan for the municipality, which includes drilling boreholes and limiting water losses through effective maintenance.

It all comes down to putting the needs of the people first. And the only thing still holding us back here is the scope of our influence. In other words, as a local government, there is only so much we can do. If we really want to bring about the type of change you are so desperately waiting for, we have to do so as a national government.

Because to truly change the lives of those who live in poverty we must make the kind of changes only a national government can make. We must grow the economy by attracting investors and supporting businesses so that we can create the jobs so many of you need.

More jobs don’t only mean more breadwinners in the home. It also means less crime, less drugs and fewer gangs in your community. It means that a place like Mbekweni can become a place of safety and a place of hope.

My fellow South Africans,

I know life is still far from perfect here in Mbekweni. I know what drugs and gangs do to a community like yours. I know how hopeless it can seem for young people who can’t find jobs. I know that poverty and unemployment are preventing many of you from tasting that freedom that was promised in 1994.

But I assure you that the DA has a plan to change all of that. We have a plan to get South Africa working again – to get the sons and daughters of Mbekweni working again. And we can only do this with your help.

Lend us your vote in 2011 and help us build the kind of South Africa that benefits everyone who lives here. A South Africa full of hope and opportunity for all.

Issued by the DA, 26 July 2017