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In light of the fact that ANC-run metros continue to hold Mayoral Committee (Mayco) meetings behind closed doors and still award tenders for metro business in secret, the Democratic Alliance (DA) challenges the ANC to open up its government operations so that they can be transparent and accountable to the public, just as we have done in the City of Cape Town. The ANC’s secretive decision-making style runs counter to the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution, oftentimes providing shelter for incompetence, nepotism or corruption in local government. Ultimately, these closed-door processes make ANC leaders accountable to the party rather than city residents. We call on the ANC to open the doors of metropolitan governance by holding public Mayco meetings and public Bid Adjudication Tender Award Committee meetings in the metros it governs.
When the DA took over the City of Cape Town from the ANC in 2006, we opened all council meetings and Mayco meetings to the public. This allowed city residents to observe, discuss, critique and understand local government better than at any time in the city’s history. And it allowed for a greater level of civic engagement with the City, making the Council more responsive to the desires of the people. We enhanced trust in local government since we opened our decision-making processes to public view. This should be a standard feature of every municipal government, but unfortunately, to this day, Cape Town is the only metro that holds open Mayco meetings.
The DA also opened up the meetings of the Bid Adjudication Tender Award Committee, which decides all contracts valued over R200 000 between the City of Cape Town and outside suppliers. In addition, all contracts below R200 000, where quotes were previously selectively requested from suppliers, are now advertised and anyone can submit a quote. All contract results are posted on the Council website. This means that corruption cannot take root in DA governments, because we build accountability into the system, making our decisions open to public scrutiny. No ANC metro does this. And the sad result has been that the tender process in many ANC-run metros has encouraged insider deals that benefit politically connected personalities rather than competitive bidders who can provide a good service at the best price to city residents. The closed tender award structure makes the likelihood of corruption much greater than an open one.
Because the DA believes that every citizen has a right to participate in government, we have made our structures open, accessible and transparent. Along with opening the two committees to the public, the DA in Cape Town also established the first municipal Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which, similar to its national parliamentary SCOPA counterpart, is chaired by a member of an opposition party. Cape Town also releases monthly statements on its financial performance to the public, freely available on its website. And the DA-led City of Cape Town has won the last two Golden Key Awards for being the best municipality for its access to information policies and practices, an award which acknowledges best practices by public institutions that promote openness, responsiveness and information-sharing in South Africa through the implementation of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
Unfortunately, the ANC has built secrecy into many of its decision-making process, to the point of even refusing to reveal the names of its metropolitan mayoral candidates before the local elections. This denies residents the chance to assess the character and integrity of the party’s choice for metro leader.
The DA challenges the ANC to become more transparent: open your metro Mayco meetings, open your metro tender award meetings, and tell metro residents who your mayoral candidates are. The DA has done this, and will do so in every metro that we govern. But it is up to South Africans to choose for themselves whether they want a party of secrecy or a party of transparency. The DA looks forward to bringing our open, accountable style of leadership to every metro in the country.