The real State of the City: Overturning the legacy of empty promises, half-completed projects and insiders and outsiders

Over the last 60 day I have travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful city to see for myself how the people of Tshwane are living and the service delivery challenges they are facing.

And I have realise that it is time for the residents of Tshwane to be honest about the state of our city. Not only our city, but the city that houses the seat of government, and bore witness to the birth of our democracy in 1994.

We have come a long way since then, but progress has stalled as the ANC continues to make and break one promise after the next with the residents of cities like ours suffering from an uncaring ANC that is no longer the party it once was.

So let us be honest about the state of our city and the plight of its residents. Assessing this city has to start with three tests:

Firstly, we have to keep track of broken promises.

Secondly, we have to take stock of half-completed projects.

Thirdly, we have to count the insiders and the outsiders created by the mayor and the current administration in the past five years.

Before the DA or any other party can bring real change to Tshwane, we have to be honest about what we stand to inherit after the local government elections in August.

But let me be clear. While the task ahead of us is daunting, I am filled with hope by the ambition, the discipline, the honesty and the hard work of the people of Tshwane who are getting along with their lives despite adverse circumstances.

I am inspired by the young people who want to work, so that they can contribute to society and look after their families; the families who boil the water they get from municipal taps; the parents fighting with everything they have against the scourge of Nyaope; the commuters who travel long and expensive distances to work in what is supposed to be a capital city of excellence.

They deserve more than five more years of broken promises, half-completed projects and the systems of lucky insiders and unlikely outsiders which colour the reality of daily life in the capital city.

In order to offer a real alternative in Tshwane – change which will stop corruption, start delivery and create jobs – we must first be honest about the State of the City.

Before we can shape the future, we must assess the economic damage, point out the harmful policies and express the anger, frustration and disappointment of the people of Tshwane.

What has been promised

In successive State of the City Addresses and in community meetings across the City, the mayor has made wild and wonderful promises to the people.

To young people of Soshanguve and Garankuwa desperate to work, he has promised EPWP and Vat Alles Jobs.

To the informal car washers of Mamelodi, he has promised city investment in a car wash facility that would bring them into the formal economy.

To the media, and no doubt to the millions of unemployed youths of Tshwane, the mayor promised the completion of projects like the Centurion Aviation Village, Symbio City in the North, and Rainbow Junction in the South.

To the families which this city evicted from the Schubart Park housing complex in 2012, the mayor promised the West Capital Development Project.

To the Constitutional Court he promised  that his administration would refurbish Schubart Park, which would allow him to restore the occupation of the evicted families. To the students of TUT and other colleges in the west of the city, he promised affordable accommodation in Marabastad as part of the same West Capital Development Project. Indeed the West Capital Prescient was going to change the face of the city.

To the elderly, the disabled and those who cannot afford municipal services, the mayor promised a system of smart prepaid meters to enable these residents to control their consumption and to meet their commitments.

He promised them, as indeed is required by law, a quotient of free water and electricity. And implicit in the promise was a commitment to actually apply the indigent policy of the city, so that free services for those most in need are not squandered.

To the city’s sports enthusiasts, the mayor promised that the HM Pitje stadium would be refurbished. He promised that Giant Stadium would finally be completed.

To residents who feel unsafe in the streets and in their own homes, he promised two metro police units in each ward.

To the families torn apart by the lure of drugs, especially Nyaope, he promised specific interventions.

And so the list of promises has grown as the mayor has made one hollow commitment after the next.

What has been delivered?

But we will not let him get away with this. We will not allow him to escape accountability for misleading the citizens of this great city.

There’s usually little that can stop the mayor from making a good promise. But invariably his promises catch up to him.

The mayor’s promises also catch up to the officials of the city, many of whom are dedicated to their jobs and making a difference, but whose attention is constantly diverted towards creating hype for the mayor’s next big project, his next big promise.

So let us consider how many of them have been kept.

As I crisscrossed Tshwane in the past few months, seen the faces of its people, shook their hands and listened to their stories, I have had a unique chance to see which promises have been kept and which have been broken.

I have also been able to judge first-hand how the duplicity of all the political promises have undermined the ability of the city to fight corruption, deliver services and drive job-creation.

Let us consider jobs.

Young people have told me, over and over again, that EPWP and Vat Alles jobs are not open to everyone. You need an ANC membership card. You need to be aligned to the right factions in the ANC.

This has confirmed reports in the media that these so-called beneficiaries of government job creation in Tshwane are used for ANC door-to-door canvassing. It has also confirmed what disgruntled Vat Alles workers have told us about the system of personal and political favouritism which determine Vat Alles appointments and promotions.

The city-sponsored car wash in Mamelodi is operational, but the people you’ll find working there are not associated with the cooperative of informal Mamelodi carwashes. They are EPWP workers. And they aren’t washing many cars. In fact they sit around a closed gate manned by a security guard. None of the other businesses which formed part of the project’s original design, the Laundromat, the tuck-shop or the chesanyama are open.

Let us consider infrastructure.

The much lauded Centurion Aviation Village is an open piece of red soil. Rainbow Junction is nowhere to be seen. The super towers of Symbio City are as of yet still a figment of the mayor’s imagination. And yet, even as I speak, the mayor and his closest allies are dreaming up even more projects, even more promises, and even more preoccupations which will divert the attention of city officials away from stopping corruption, starting delivery and winning the trust of investors.

What about the West Capital Prescient? Last week city officials admitted to a committee of the city council that the contractor who won the West Capital tender cannot do the job. They haven’t started building yet. They haven’t even submitted the basic city planning applications for processing and approval. In the meantime, the city has forgotten the former residents of the Schubart Park and the students who were promised affordable accommodation.

In Mamelodi, HM Pitje is still not ready to be used for practices. In Soshanguve, Giant Stadium is yet to be completed.

And let us consider basic living conditions and essential services.

We now have many police officers, but they aren’t engaging in the fight against Nyaope dealers. They are mostly wandering around aimlessly in the inner city, no hint of system of disciplined system of command and control which direct their tasks. Try to find a city-funded drug rehabilitation centre which provide free accedes and support to the families of Nyoepe addicts,

Prepaid electricity meters were never delivered in full. Those that were didn’t work properly. The contract to procure these meters was illegal. The finance minister warned the mayor of this fact, as did the DA. He nonetheless signed the deal, and as of today we are still paying for prepaid electricity meters which were never delivered and did not work. More money has been wasted on these meters than the entire Zuma family could spend in a lifetime.

And finally, the elderly, the infirm and the disadvantage endure a daily struggle with the municipality. Because the city does not know who it’s registered in terms of its indigent policy, services are cut sporadically. Because the city’s infrastructure is creaking under the massive strain of under spending on maintenance, we lose millions of litres of water and kilowatts of electricity every month.

And so while the list of promises has grown, so too has the list of those the mayor as broken.

This weekend the DA will be launching our Manifesto For Change that will focus on stopping corruption, creating jobs and delivering better services. This will be a Manifesto that will help move South Africa forward again.

With this Manifesto, we will be able to fix Tshwane and ensure that our people live a life of dignity, with opportunities, that they can value.

The citizens of Tshwane deserve change and we are committed to bringing it on August 3rd.

The DA is determined to win Tshwane at this year’s municipal election, and together with residents of Tshwane, to usher in a government that delivers better services, cuts corruption and creates jobs.

Change is coming to Tshwane, with a new DA government, after Election 2016.


Solly Msimanga

DA Mayoral Candidate for Tshwane


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