The following speech was delivered by DA Mayoral Candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay, Athol Trollip, during his State of the Metro Address in Port Elizabeth on the 8th March 2016.
The DA campaign for Nelson Mandela Bay has been in top gear since, as Mayoral Candidate, I began working with every community to assess the true state of our Metro over a year ago.
Since we officially launched the election campaign in September, I have been with every community in our Metro. From Seaview, to Motherwell, and from KwaNobuhle to Humewood, I have experienced the desperation for change among all people.
I have been in the homes of parents whose children are gunned down by rampant gangsters, in the homes of grandmothers who live with un-serviced bucket toilets and with desperate mothers whose government houses are crumbling. I have been with families whose taps are dry because water leaks go unrepaired, and in homes of young residents who have given up hope of meaningful jobs because the unemployment is a crisis in NMB.
I have walked with our poorest and most left-behind residents, who have no reliable public transport to access opportunities, because our IPTS buses continue to be an ANC wound inflicted on our city.
There are daily challenges in the lives of so many, simply because government in NMB does not care enough to act.
Although the state of our metro is disheartening, with many examples of failed governance, non-existent service delivery, ongoing corruption and soaring unemployment, I am so deeply encouraged by the overwhelming sense of hope I encounter.
Residents of NMB want change, and they believe it can come in this election.
Nelson Mandela Bay has the most spectacular potential. What I see and hear is that residents are ready to make that potential a reality.
Service delivery in Nelson Mandela Bay requires urgent attention. We have seen large and expensive vanity launches in the last few months, where new equipment is unveiled, but it never hits the road. In the case of Metro Police vehicles, supposedly unveiled months ago, those hired cars are long returned to their owners and still our people remain so unsafe.
Too many communities are still without flush toilets, formal electricity infrastructure, proper tarred roads, access to clean drinking water and refuse collection. Over the last two decades, this could have been resolved – there has absolutely been enough time, but instead we have had one selfish and uncaring administration after the next, focused only on enriching themselves at our expense, the people of this Metro.
Local government is at the coal face of delivery that directly impacts lives, and when it fails to do what it is meant to, instantly our people suffer. The DA has a mission for South Africa, one which puts South Africans first.
History, although important, doesn’t deliver services. We need to rely on our ability to incorporate history into our daily lives so that we can use it to drive change; Change that directly improves our lives, and takes us away from the legacy of our past. Economic transformation and redress can only be achieved by using our past to shape our future.
The DA’s vision sees Nelson Mandela Bay as an Opportunity City with a growing economy that creates jobs. This vision sees our city become the fastest growing tourism destination in South Africa attracting thousands of tourists and billions in revenue. A growing tourism industry combined with infrastructure led economic growth is critical to ensuring we build a diverse and sustainable economy that will attract investors and create jobs.
Our beautiful coastline, warm ocean water, bordering game parks and favourable climate are natural assets that can be used, while being preserved, to directly benefit the people of our municipality.
We are the gateway to a province of unrivalled beauty, where over 7 biomes exist, against a backdrop of rich heritage and culture. We are a blank and neglected canvas, ready for a new, skilled, forward-thinking, committed and determined artist.
Our vision of a Safe City focuses on targeting crime with locally developed solutions and an effective Metro Police service. Working together with community policing forums, the SAPS and our Metro Police we will make Nelson Mandela Bay safer. Specialized gang and drug units supported by a comprehensive Closed Circuit Television Camera network will ensure that we can be responsive and effective in dealing with crime.
It is important for citizens to feel that their government cares. That is why in a Caring City the DA believes that government must be close to the people and remain in touch with the needs of all communities. This requires a responsive government that delivers quality services on time and on budget without wasting money. A government that listens, responds and delivers is a government that cares.
Imagine a city without potholes, broken streetlights and crumbling infrastructure. Where people have access to excellent and affordable basic services, safe roads and well-maintained public spaces. This is our vision of a Well-Run City. In these communities there is a high level of trust – where the public know what their money is being spent on and have a say in their government and planning for the future. Ensuring fairness for all residents is a key goal of well-run cities.
In an Inclusive City Nelson Mandela Bay will become a connected city, which celebrates diversity and provides freedom of movement through a safe and reliable public transport system. Townships and informal settlements will become suburbs, with the necessary infrastructure and services to ensure that all communities become dignified and safe spaces of opportunity.
The DA’s vision for Nelson Mandela Bay is one of a Forward Thinking City that plans for the future. A forward thinking city takes the dreams and aspirations of their residents to heart. Multi-generational planning is key to ensuring we that leave a legacy for our children and for theirs but this is only possible when leaders think and plan beyond their term of office.
The ANC will be unseated this year at the local government election, and its place will be elected an honest, accountable and delivery-focused government, led by the DA. Because where the DA governs, services are delivered, corruption is rooted out and jobs are created.
With unemployment at 36.6% and almost one in every two young people without work, Nelson Mandela Bay faces an unparalleled crisis that requires immediate intervention. Having spent time at jobs centres in PE, I was able to witness first-hand the pain as they held out in desperation for scarce work opportunities.
The DA will introduce red-tape reduction programmes to break down the barriers of entry for first-time business owners and entrepreneurs, and create job zones, as has been done by the DA where it governs elsewhere in the country.
Further to this, the DA will ensure fair and transparent allocation of EPWP jobs to the most deserving candidates, irrespective of political affiliation, mirroring the successes of the DA-managed and award-winning EPWP in the City of Cape Town.
Reviving tourism, installing free Wi-Fi and implementing a functional public transport system will also form part of the job creation drive under a DA government in NMB.
The DA will spend allocated budget on bucket toilet eradication unlike in recent years where unspent budget had to be sent back to treasury because the ANC forgot to spend the money.
Our first term of office will see the eradication of all possible buckets, restoring dignity to those tens of thousands of residents still using 30 000 bucket toilets across the Metro.
In the City of Cape Town, a comprehensive bucket eradication programme under the DA has reduced the number of buckets in use from tens of thousands to below 500.
Weekly refuse collection, the most basic of services, remains a dream for many communities, despite endless promises from the current Mayor to have this resolved by the end of October 2015. 4 months later, and illegal dumping is worse than ever before, exacerbated by a suspended litter picking project as a result of poor financial management and a prematurely blown budget.
The DA will, at the first possible budget allocation, set aside funding to ensure that every ward receives weekly refuse collection. This will not only provide additional jobs, but will also reduce the scourge of illegal dumping.
NMB’s water infrastructure is on the brink of total collapse, exacerbated by the irresponsible R123 million slashing of the infrastructure maintenance budget, with 43% of our precious drinking water lost to leaks and bursts. It is beyond comprehension that the current government, in its various forms, continues to allow 45 billion litres of water to be lost every year, especially considering that vast parts of the country are in the grips of the worst drought in over 50 years.
The DA will immediately implement a comprehensive audit of the entire water infrastructure network and deploy a team of well-trained plumbing interns and artisans to begin saving water. Saving money on leaks will allow additional funding to be spent on Nooitgedacht to ensure water security over the medium to long term.
Our collapsing roads need urgent repair and maintenance – potholes take weeks to be repaired, if they are repaired at all. I have heard of far too many accidents caused by uneven and broken road surfaces – this government is putting our people at risk and it must stop.
The DA will introduce tender expiration flagging system which identifies tenders due for renewal prior to expiration. This will avoid the situation where a tender expires preventing the delivery of basic services such as we have seen with the hot tar tender. We will introduce the Government Dashboard, which Helen Zille pioneered in the Western Cape in 2009, to have real time updates of all tenders and contracts and how they are progressing.
Furthermore, the DA will introduce a pothole repair task team aimed at reducing the turnaround time, from reporting to repair, to 24 hours.
Housing continues to be plagued by incompetence and corruption. The backlog currently stands at over 80 000 units, with a further 40 000 units awaiting rectification. With the most recent report showing that Minister Sisulu’s intervention has only delivered on 15% of target, it seems that no sphere of ANC government is able to get this right.
The DA will immediately action a forensic audit on all supply chain management, prosecuting anyone found guilty of side-stepping due processes. We will ensure zero-tolerance on political interference and screen all SMMEs and contractors wishing to bid for tenders.
It will be crucial to partner with domestic and international partners to develop multiple streams of finance to make up for the poor effort by the ANC over the last 20 years. The City of Cape Town under the DA recently handed out more than 14 200 title deeds, which we would like to replicate here in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Crime and gangsterism are a huge problem for many communities in our Metro, made worse by this government’s inability to get the metro police off the ground, despite an adopted and gazetted plan sitting on the Mayor’s desk. Overgrown bushes and poor lighting add to this growing problem, which sees 80% of our residents too afraid to go out after dark.
The DA will begin operationalising a metro police force, tasked with enforcing by-laws and assisting SAPS with general law enforcement. The establishment of an anti-gang and anti-drug unit will drive down the incidences of gang- and drug-related crimes.
By adopting a “broken window” approach and enforcing a broken buildings bylaw, the fight against crime will be elevated so that our people begin to feel safe.
Our residents deserve functional libraries, public pools, clinics, museums and other places of cultural heritage. To date, the government has fallen short of creating these important community spaces, leaving many residents without a sense of community.
The DA, by undertaking to turn Nelson Mandela Bay around, will focus on creating jobs, fixing the housing department, fighting crime and gangsterism, improving service delivery and building complete communities.
This is the year of change. Nelson Mandela Bay is ready.
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