DA mayoral candidate for the City of Tshwane Randall Williams told a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) hearing at the Tshwane Chambers on Tuesday he was of the view that to now dissolve the city council would endanger lives in the city in the wake of the spread of coronavirus.
The majority DA does not have enough seats in council to govern without a coalition partner, but the EFF and ANC have been trying since last year to get a new speaker and mayor elected. There is currently also no municipal manager in place.
The DA has used legal action to combat motions of no confidence against its speaker; it is now continuing with this tactic against the provincial government’s decision to dissolve council and put the capital city under administration, a decision announced earlier this month.
Williams argued that Tshwane under the DA had been financially stable, as “indicated recently by an upgrade from credit ratings agency Moody’s, and there has been huge improvement in managing its relationship with debtors”.
He told the NCOP that the city had continually received unqualified audit reports indicating that the Auditor-General was satisfied with the city’s finances.
“Reports by the ANC that there is a R1.9 billion revenue loss are untrue, and there are no outstanding creditors. The City of Tshwane does not owe Eskom anything. The City has been engaging extensively with National Treasury to ensure that relevant rollovers take place in terms of grant spending and we are awaiting feedback on this.
“The Supply Chain Management Policy in the City has been reviewed in order to tighten up spending and prevent any unnecessary wasteful or irregular expenses. We have also successfully challenged and corrected issues regarding problematic tenders, including setting aside the PEU Smart Meters contract and reviewing the CSS46 Fleet contracts, all of which were entered into by the ANC.”
He said they had also terminated the controversial GladAfrica contract, which dogged previous DA mayor Solly Msimanga’s administration.
“The ANC-led Gauteng provincial government has cited a problem with the Aurecon contract, though there has been no negative finding made on this contract by the Auditor-General.
“Basic service delivery in the city continues to run as usual with the provision of water, electricity and waste removal taking place on a regular basis.”
He said ANC-government-flagged issues pertaining to the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant had been addressed and a R250 million tender had been awarded to refurbish the plant.
“Water and electricity non-revenue losses are stable and they are being maintained at reasonable levels compared to other ANC-led municipalities.
“The City has been consulting extensively with communities through the expansion of public participation programmes on all legislated reports as well as by-laws and policies.”
Williams added that the City was in the process of finalising its ward committee by-law being held over “due to the behaviour of councillors through non-participation in their required legislated committees”.
He added that an intervention at Wonderboom Airport had also been made with the appointment of a qualified airport manager.
“It is important to mention that the airport has never been closed at any point. The newly qualified airport manager is ensuring that the airport correctly complies with the relevant aviation standards.”
He argued that provincial government had failed to indicate any exceptional circumstances for the administration decision.
“It is indeed true that there is no executive mayor or city manager in the City of Tshwane, because council cannot reach or sustain a quorum.
“However, this is still not a reason to dissolve the Tshwane Council and place the city under administration.
“In fact, the ANC-led Dr. J S Moroka Municipality in Mpumalanga finds itself in a similar situation and has not been placed under administration by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
“Furthermore, the vacancies in the City of Tshwane are not due to the failure of the administration, but rather due to ANC and EFF councillors, who have continually collapsed and walked out of council meetings since December 2019.”
The EFF and ANC have, however, consistently countered that they have walked out due to alleged filibustering and other alleged obstruction attempts by the DA. The DA has argued that it wants the laws followed properly.
Williams contended: “It is as a result of this unruly behaviour that the city finds itself facing a leadership vacuum as the ANC and EFF councillors refuse to allow council to deliberate on its core business to elect new leadership and approve the required legislated reports, by-laws and policies.
“To date, the Gauteng MEC of Cogta, Lebogang Maile, has not made any attempt to discipline the ANC and EFF councillors, despite there being extensive evidence indicating how they have been disrupting and collapsing council.
The DA has approached the High Court in Pretoria to have the Cogta decision reversed and to “put an end to this blatant abuse of power”.
“The reasons provided by Cogta in Gauteng for dissolving the Tshwane Council are frivolous and without any basis or clear understanding of the facts pertaining to service delivery in the city.
“In fact, we have responded comprehensively to the Cogta MEC in December last year, when he first issued correspondence about the state of affairs in the City of Tshwane.”
He implored the NCOP to reject MEC Maile’s decision.
“There are several ANC-led municipalities in Gauteng which are in dire straits and in a significantly worse situation than the City of Tshwane, and yet no intervention is taking place to support these municipalities.
“In fact, Moody’s has identified only two financially stable municipalities in Gauteng, which are the DA-led Tshwane and Midvaal.
“The decision to dissolve the Tshwane Council has no basis in law and has no facts supporting its justification. It is being done purely for political reasons.”
‘Now a danger to lives’
Citywide by-elections in 90 days subsequent to the dissolution would place an immense strain on the Independent Electoral Commission close to a municipal election next year, Williams added.
“Furthermore, with the current coronavirus outbreak, such a decision could pose severe health risks to the lives of thousands of residents in Tshwane.
“We call on the Cogta minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Maile to show that they are putting the people of Tshwane first, that they will follow President Cyril Ramaphosa and end their political games to ensure that the health and safety of our residents is prioritised.”
He asked the NCOP to instruct Maile to withdraw his intervention and rather implement the Councillor’s Code of Conduct “in instructing councillors from the ANC and EFF to do their legislated duty”.
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