On Saturday October 9, 2021, the African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape held its Manifesto Launch at the iconic Samaaj Centre in Gatesville. It was at this event where the ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile correctly characterised the Western Cape as the last bastion of Apartheid.
The elections are an opportunity to renew the social compact and get a new mandate from the people to govern.
The ANC lost power to the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Cape Metro exactly 15 years ago. While the loss of power is bad, it is also a learning opportunity and a chance to reflect on past mistakes and rebuild and renew the organisation so we can provide a capable government that will provide effective and efficient service delivery and clean governance to the people.
Our President has made it clear that the ANC has made some serious mistakes – corruption, factionalism and gate-keeping, to mention a few. We can see how the renewal and unity mandate led by our President and the ANC NEC is actually changing the organizational culture within the ANC. It is now broadly accepted in the ANC that those of our members who are facing serious charges must step aside. This is not a debate in the ANC. It is now part of the renewal culture.
As the Head of Elections in the Western Cape, I was given an opportunity to make a pledge on behalf of our organisation.
The ANC manifesto talks about building communities together by putting our best candidates forward in each and every ward.
These are servants of the people who are not corrupt, not thieves and not dispensers of patronage. The ANC is the only organisation which followed an open and democratic process to select its councillor candidates; including giving communities an opportunity to select its preferred candidates for the ANC. Our rigorous selection and vetting processes have ensured that all those with a questionable past and those who are facing various serious charges in court may not stand as councillor candidates. On lists of various other parties, including the DA, there are names of those facing serious crimes, including corruption and money laundering.
The biggest obstacle to building communities together in the city and local municipalities is the DA . This has to change come November 1.
We have been making steady progress in the Western Cape on our journey of winning back the trust of many who had become disillusioned.
In 2016 the ANC won only 1 council - Laingsburg.
The DA, who neglected service delivery to the poor, told many blue lies, resulting in many people across many municipalities turning their backs on them. Now, in 2021, the ANC governs and leads coalitions in 10 municipalities following victories in by-elections – Matzikama, Cederberg, Beaufort West, Prince Albert, Laingsburg, Karoo District, Kannaland, Bitou, Knysna and Oudtshoorn. In some we are working with coalition partners who left the DA. The people have finally seen the DA for what it is:
- A party for elite;
- A party that fights to preserve privilege;
- A racist and anti-poor party;
- A party that has disregarded the basic services needed by the majority of our City and province;
- A party that thrives on division;
- A product of apartheid and colonialism;
- A party of the past; and
- A party that belongs in the dustbin of history
Its track record over the past 15 years in the City Council and 12 years in the Western Cape government proves all this right. Below I take a closer look at DA rule in the province:
- The DA promised to appoint the Children’s Commissioner which is mandatory in terms of the provincial constitution in 2009. It took 11 years before they did so after relentless pressure from the ANC and civil society. Even now that the ANC won the battle, the DA is underfunding the commissioner and not ensuring her independence.
- The provincial constitution provides for the compulsory appointment of an environmental commissioner. They have defied the constitution and have not allowed the legislature to nominate one. This is due to pressure from DA developer funders who see the commissioner as a “nuisance“.
- The DA has promised to release provincial and municipal land for integrated social housing and reverse apartheid spatial planning. After 12 years of the DA government in the province and 15 in the city they have not used any land they own for inner city social housing.
- The DA promised to place learners in our schools but over 30 000 learners were not placed. The party is collapsing the education system for the poor, with schools in poor working class communities characterised by poor infrastructure, shortage of teachers and overcrowded classrooms. Every time we point out these anomalies, the MEC is quick to shift the goal posts and blame this on insufficient funds from the national government. Yet, the DA-run provincial education department returned R400-million to the provincial treasury and has recently signed a R1-billion deal to rent new WCED offices. Cheaper options were available.
- The DA promised to act without fear or favour against errant DA councillors and MPs. Yet it is clear from how it has handled disciplinary measures recently that there are different standards for some. MEC Madikizela was summarily suspended after allegedly falsifying his CV and is now out of office. Yet Mayco member JP Smith and Saldanha Mayor Marius Koen, who face similar allegations, remain in office. This is nothing but racism. One set of rules for black DA members and another for white members.
- The DA promised service delivery for all and a focus on poor communities. Yet sewerage flows in the streets of many townships, council roads in many communities are in a shocking state of repair. The apartheid government created the ‘Ghettos’ for the black masses of our people, the DA government over the past 15 years has maintained this apartheid legacy and ensured underservicing of poor working class communities, limited budgets for development and rising poverty levels.
- Since DA’s day zero campaign during the drought, water tariffs were massively hiked and remain exorbitant and the pipe levy - skelm tax - is hitting working and middle class families very hard.
- The DA in the city has chosen to sell Municipal land to the highest bidder, instead of using this land for affordable housing. This has deepened the housing crisis. We have been demanding that prime pockets of land owned by the state in well located sites and golf courses should be used for affordable housing. The DA keeps disposing of these to its handlers for profiteering.
- The DA promised to clean up and upgrade the Mitchells Plain town centre. The situation has worsened with crime, grime and corruption impacting on the lives of small traders. They simply don’t care.
- While proclaiming the need for intergovernmental cooperation with national, DA leaders have instructed Premier Winde to reject the President's District Development Model and refused to work with the district champions appointed to the 6 districts in the province. This is denying communities the benefits of national investment and cross party cooperation for narrow party interests.
The ANC can and will do better in governing municipalities in the province. We are asking our people for another chance to govern and here are the 10 priorities which ANC will pursue in the City of Cape Town:
- Deliver services to the neglected and marginalised communities and also to all communities;
- Clean our communities using the expanded public works and community works programmes while initiating massive recycling projects working with waste pickers and the private sector. In all of this we will defend the hard won rights of municipal workers.
- Spend infrastructure budgets and upgrade informal settlements ensuring adequate water, sanitation and roads;
- Identify and release well located land belonging to local, provincial, national government as well as State-owned entities and well located private land for integrated human settlements, industry, recreation, and social development;
- Reverse apartheid spatial planning by using the former SABC building in Sea Point, Tafelberg, Helen Bowden Nursing home, the Woodstock hospital and other sites across the various CBDs in the City;
- To implement the constitutional mandate local government has to aggressively pursue Local Economic Development (LED) and ECD (early childhood development) across the city, building on our natural endowments and our competitive advantage with special focus on building the township economy; this includes cleaning up and upgrading business and ECD centers in poor working class communities;
- Bringing back the tried and tested Bambanani safety strategy involving communities in street and block communities to tackle the scourge of Gender Based Violence and Femicide, safety for women and children. Our communities will be mobilised to point out the gangsters, those who extort and those who kill. They will be prosecuted. We will never allow criminals and gangs to be stronger than government;
- Tackle substance abuse and gangsterism in a focussed and sustainable manner with youth at the centre;
- Actively promote the sustainable utilisation of our environment and combat climate change, including an innovative urban agriculture project aimed at both tackling food insecurity and creating sustainable livelihoods and incomes; and
- Lead a cooperative approach to resolve the city’s public transport challenges. Golden Arrow, Metro Rail, the minibus taxi industry, scholar transport and My City must provide safe, integrated, regular and affordable transport. Many workers are having to spend 40% of their wages on transport, creating massive pressures on family budgets.
These are not promises but commitments we make to the masses of our people as we renew the social compact with the people. We are asking the people of the Western Cape to vote out the uncaring DA government on November 1 and give the ANC another chance.
Written by Cameron Dugmore, ANC MPL and Leader of the opposition in Western Cape Legislature