ANC determined to make Johannesburg residents pay for debt owed to Eskom and poor infrastructure

City Power has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Eskom to start the process of City Power taking over the responsibility of electricity supply to current Eskom-supply areas such as Soweto, Ivory Park, Orange Farm, Diepsloot and Sandton.

However, very few details have been disclosed except that City Power will “conduct its own due diligence study on Eskom’s infrastructure and assets in the areas… The due diligence study will consider, among others, the state and value of the infrastructure that would eventually be sold to City Power, [and] the outstanding debt owed by customers to Eskom”.

This alone implies that the ANC-led Johannesburg have no problem making the residents carry the cost for this takeover.

Under no circumstances, should the residents be forced into a situation of inheriting and paying for any of Eskom’s mess, such as Soweto’s ballooning debt, and the current state of Eskom’s infrastructure in their supply areas. The infrastructure in current Eskom-supply areas is in a terrible state, with regular breakdowns, leaving residents with outages for weeks on end.

Those residents can afford to pay for electricity must do so, while those who cannot afford to pay, must be referred to the City’s Expanded Social Package programme.

For City Power to inherit the debt and current state of infrastructure would collapse the municipal-owned entity within months. This could very well lead to further mass outages across the city and an eventual collapse of the municipal power grid.

While the DA supports in principle, the takeover of Eskom supply areas by City Power, this can only be done with an agreement where Eskom will undertake to resolve the debt owed to them, and repair and replace any ageing and broken down infrastructure in their supply areas.

Further to this, National Treasury would need to provide City Power with conditional grants during the years of the gradual takeover, so that City Power’s absorption of the current Eskom customers would not negatively affect the municipal entity’s financial balance.

A DA-led Johannesburg will not place the residents in any situation where they bail out Eskom’s mess. National government must take responsibility for the failures of their entity and not dare pass this buck onto the ratepayers of Johannesburg.

This is exactly why the DA supports local government taking control over electricity supply. The DA in Johannesburg wants to move away from relying solely on the failed Eskom model. Only once Eskom has upgraded their infrastructure in their supply areas, a DA-led City Power can take over and start opening up supply to a diverse pool of competitive independent power producers, so that residents can finally start being free of Eskom loadshedding, and the cost of electricity can start to come down.

Only a DA-led Johannesburg will get things done and keep the lights on in the City of Gold.

ANC is lying that Johannesburg deal with Kelvin Power Station will end loadshedding

The ANC-led Johannesburg’s claims that the new deal between the City and the Kelvin Power Station would help protect residents of loadshedding is disingenuous and pure desperate electioneering.

This follows reports from News24 and Business Day who quoted City Power spokesperson, Isaac Mangena as suggesting that this deal will help the Johannesburg Municipality protect residents from loadshedding.

The ‘new deal’ which in essence, is just a glorified two year extension of an existing contract between the City and Kelvin, would not help offset loadshedding and protect residents as claimed.

The current 20 year contract between the two parties which is set to expire in November, only in practical terms saw Kelvin supplying a maximum range of 150 to 250MW, with a daily average of 180MW to the City over the past few years.

At the moment, with Eskom at maximum capacity, their supply to Johannesburg still falls short of 150MW to keep supply afloat for the City. This is where Kelvin’s current average daily supply of 180MW helps keep the lights on, during non-loadshedding times.

The extension of this contract will only see a maximum supply of 180MW a day. In order for the City to offset loadshedding, Kelvin would need to supply at least between 250-300MW a day.

Further to this, the extension of the contract will only be for two years, in accordance with the Municipal Financial Management Act. Taking into account that Kelvin is set for decommissioning in 2026 according to the Integrated Resources Plan of 2019, Kelvin would not be a suitable or long-term sustainable source to offset and free residents of Eskom-loadshedding.

At the moment, Kelvin is also having their own challenges. Their Plant A has been decommissioned and now relies on Plant B to supplement. This is why Kelvin simply cannot supply Johannesburg with more power than what they are providing now. In a normal scenario, a fully functional plant A and B of Kelvin would have a combined capacity of 600MW.

In reality, even with the two years extension, Kelvin will not be able to help Johannesburg offset loadshedding for residents in the short-term.

The DA wants to bring stability to the supply of electricity in Johannesburg, and would do this by actively addressing the backlog of City Power infrastructure, by ensuring adequate budgeting every financial year to repair and maintain ageing equipment, while only agreeing to take over Eskom-supply areas once Eskom has repaired and upgraded their infrastructure in places such as Soweto, Orange Farm and Ivory Park. Further to this, under no circumstances will a DA-led Johannesburg inherit any outstanding debt owed to Eskom whatsoever.

A move like this would give City Power full control over electricity supply across Johannesburg, and enable the DA to move forward with procuring supply from a wider and diverse pool of independent power producers, so that residents no longer have to be solely reliant on Eskom and can start being freed of loadshedding.

Embracing private sector competition would also help drive down the costs of electricity for residents, so that they can keep more money in their pockets.

Only a DA government will get things done in the City of Gold and free the residents of Eskom loadshedding.

While Joburg’s emergency services fail, DA ward candidate, DA activist come to the rescue of pregnant woman

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to DA Ward 58 Candidate, Waolea Minnaar, and DA activist Tarren Roodt for their heroic act in helping a displaced female deliver her baby in the Brixton cemetery yesterday. See picture here.

Despite the ambulance only arriving almost two hours after they were called, both Minnaar and Roodt stepped up beyond their duties as citizens, in helping a desperate woman with no immediate access to emergency services. At the time, the pregnant woman was living in the Brixton cemetery.

While waiting for the ambulance, another DA activist went to the Brixton fire station no more than approximately 200 metres away from the pregnant woman. The activist was allegedly told that only councillors can request fire trucks and ambulances. This was despite a desperate woman, needing urgent medical attention while firefighters are trained in this type of situation.

While ordinary citizens came to the rescue of this woman, the Johannesburg Municipality still has a responsibility to ensure responsive emergency services. The municipality’s fleet of ambulances has shrunk from 101 to 0, since the ANC took over in November 2019. This has been exacerbated by the ANC provincial government’s Provincialisation of Ambulances Programme, which saw the City’s Emergency Management Services’ (EMS) ambulance services come to a halt in June of this year.

At the moment, the provincial department of Health is the custodian of ambulance services in the City. In June 2019, the DA administration in Johannesburg delivered 42 brand new state-of-the-art ambulances to the EMS, boosting its fleet by 72% to 101 ambulances. This meant that each fire station across the City received at least one new ambulance, with the majority of new ambulances allocated to fire stations in townships. Just before the suspension of the ambulance services in June this year under the ANC government, the City was running at less than 10 ambulances per shift.

The Johannesburg Municipality needs to urgently apply for their own operating license, so that municipal ambulances can get back on the road, and assist those who simply cannot afford private medical care or ambulance services.

Once the DA is voted in with a majority in the City of Gold, we will make it a priority to get our ambulances back so that marginalised residents can have the care they deserve.

A DA Johannesburg will take charge of electricity supply – without ratepayers paying more to bail out Eskom

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects the misleading information circulated this weekend about its position on energy supply in Johannesburg.

It seeks to play off communities against one another for media headlines.

The DA supports local government taking charge of electricity supply and ending the failed Eskom model.

This includes stable, economically advantageous electricity provision to areas such as Soweto, Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Sandton.

This can be done with a fair, best practice, cross-subsidisation funding model suitable to a local government driving economic growth across the city.

In no uncertain terms, will the DA support any proposal where Sandton or other Johannesburg residents are subjected to higher electricity rates to further bail out Eskom’s mess such as of ballooning debt and backlog of ageing infrastructure.

ANC corruption has destroyed the City’s finances and created a backlog of basic services while resulting in many unnecessary job losses.

That is why the DA actively drives the procurement of electricity by municipalities from a diverse pool of independent power producers – as seen in the Western Cape where loadshedding is being directly addressed.

The competition among power producers can help drive down the costs of electricity rates for residents; ensure they can keep more money in their pockets and create economic growth and job creation.

This is exactly what the DA wants to get done in Johannesburg.

Any takeover of Eskom supply areas by City Power cannot be unconditional and no ANC mess will be passed onto the rate payers of the city.

Those that can afford to pay, must pay for their electricity; those who cannot afford to must be ably assisted – while jobs are created – illegal connections must be ended, and poor revenue collection and breakdown of infrastructure turned around.

Just like in Cape Town and elsewhere where we are clearly a model party of good government, the DA will get things done in the City of Gold.

Clandestine jobs scam operation in Johannesburg Water exposed

Note to Editors: Please find attached a video of Cllr Phalatse meeting with the Group Forensics Investigation Services spokesperson, Lucky Sindane.

Yesterday, I accompanied whistle-blowers to the Group Forensics Investigation Services (GFIS) to report a jobs scam operation within Johannesburg Water that has been running in a clandestine manner since May 2019.

Hundreds of desperate jobseekers were coerced into making payments between R1000-R1500 for ghost general worker and driver positions within Johannesburg Water. These payments were either deposited directly into bank accounts or into bank accounts via Shoprite Money Market transactions, where individuals within Johannesburg Water pocketed the money for themselves.

These jobseekers were registered as employees of Johannesburg Water and given a personnel number, but were never given actual employment with a weekly or monthly salary. This prevented them from applying for social grants because they were registered as employees.

Some of these whistle-blowers are parents who made these payments to help get their children employed.

Further to this, one whistle-blower disclosed that he was coerced into borrowing money from loan sharks in order to make these payments.

Upon arriving at the GFIS office in Johannesburg, I was met by their spokesperson, Lucky Sindane who personally promised me that he would take the statements of these whistle-blowers and investigate further.

Sindane further promised me that these whistle-blowers will be protected. They have taken a great risk to expose blatant corruption within the municipality. It is when whistle-blowers expose such egregious theft of tax payers’ money, they help create the environment where no one will be tempted to commit such criminality in government again. Whistle-blowers of South Africa deserve the recognition for the role they play in defending our democracy.

Corruption such as the Johannesburg Water jobs scam will not be tolerated in my administration. I will create a culture of encouraging any municipal employee to come forward with information of corrupt activities, so those that commit these acts will be scared away from ever doing so again. Corruption will also be rooted out in the form of investigating any officials who encouraged and facilitated such corrupt activities, and if found guilty, will have their employment terminated.

The only way to end corruption is to have zero tolerance for corruption. That will be the guiding philosophy under a DA administration.

South Hills water crisis sits at the hands of Rand Water and Eskom

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in Linmeyer and South Hills, Johannesburg, visiting residents that have been consistently affected by water outages in the area.

The South Hills water tower which supplies water to areas such as South Hills, Linmeyer, Risana, Tulisa Park, parts of Oakdene and parts of Rosettenville Extension, left residents without water for over a week at the beginning of this month. These residents found themselves in the same predicament back in July this year, when they went without water for nine days.

The South Hills water tower is a microcosm of the legacy of Rand Water’s failure to proactively and systematically maintain their infrastructure. The reasons given for the latest water outages in the area was that the Meyers Hill reservoir was below the threshold at which water could be pumped into the South Hills tower. Rand Water had a power supply issue at their Zuikerbosch purification works plant towards the end of August, which affected pump stations feeding into Meyers Hill. Just this past weekend, the Zuikerbosch plant again was affected by power supply interruption at Eskom’s Snowden substation.

However, it is not only power outages that affects supply to water towers. While Rand Water tries to scapegoat electricity as the only reason, they also throttle water supply when conducting reactive maintenance of their ageing and neglected infrastructure. If Rand Water proactively and systematically maintained their infrastructure over the years since their inception, water supply outages would be a far less common occurrence for residents in Johannesburg, and across Gauteng.

Added to this, Eskom still plays a part in the breakdown of water supply in Gauteng. Constant loadshedding has weakened bulk water supply infrastructure, while the national power supplier has also failed to maintain their own neglected infrastructure. The domino effect is there for all to see, especially when it is residents who are forced to collect water from trucks down the road.

Financial year after financial year, City Power has not been given a sufficient budget to upgrade their own infrastructure to help supplement the failures of Eskom. This just goes to show the positive impact that Independent Power Producers could play in the delivery of critical basic services such as water provision, where public entities such as Eskom miserably fail.

Johannesburg needs innovative and forward thinking when it comes to the supply of basic services. A metro municipality cannot be held ransom by failing national entities such as Rand Water and Eskom who do not have the will to keep the lights on and the taps running. There already exists municipal-owned power and water suppliers in the form of City Power and Johannesburg Water. With the right political leadership and sufficient allocation of budgets, these entities can pick up where national entities fail in their duties, so that residents no longer suffer, and can have a government that is closer to them who is responsible for all their basic services.

A DA-led Johannesburg would invest R20 billion on fixing, replacing, and upgrading roads, bridges, water pipes, waste water plants and power grids, will fix reported water leaks within 24 hours, and seek greater public-private partnerships to address the existing backlog so that residents can start being liberated from non-existent basic service delivery.

A manifesto of promise to help make the City of Gold shine again

Note to Editors: Please find attached an electronic copy of the DA’s Manifesto for Johannesburg that was presented by DA Mayoral Candidate for Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse and DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen during a live broadcast of the DA’s Johannesburg Manifesto launch here

Today, I launched my party’s manifesto for the City of Johannesburg that will ensure basic service delivery is put back on track and will help the City of Gold find its shine again.

I have spent the past month crisscrossing Johannesburg, visiting all regions and constituencies to hear first-hand accounts from residents who have unique service delivery challenges but have no help from a failing municipality.

In order to build a world-class city, basic services first have to be stabilised. Joburg has been neglected for too long – but this manifesto will be the instrument to turn things around and get the city working for all residents.

Every resident of this great Metro has a service delivery need, and every resident deserves for those needs to be solved.

This manifesto, a culmination of months of broad consultation between residents, subject matter experts, and Democratic Alliance (DA) public representatives, is a promise to the residents of Johannesburg; a declaration to implement the critical changes they so desperately need, and a promise to never abandon them. This is a blueprint for five years of good governance and I am here to implement these change for those full five years.

This manifesto can help reverse the damaged inflicted on the local economy by non-existent service delivery. While local governments are not responsible for the national economy, they still have a critical role to play in terms of offering sustainable, uninterrupted service delivery and ensuring clean and conducive environments for businesses to operate without more unnecessary hurdles. The DA wants residents in Johannesburg to have jobs and will fight tooth and nail to ensure the local environment is ripe for such job creation.

Together, with the right vision and manifesto, Johannesburg can start working again, and find the shine that has been lost for the past two years.

The DA in Johannesburg will never walk away from entrepreneurs and small business owners

Today, On World Tourism Day, I travelled across all corners of Johannesburg, visiting many tourist hotspots where entrepreneurs and small business owners have endured great challenges due to the Covid-19 lockdown and poor service delivery from the Municipality.

I spent the morning visiting places such as Victoria Yards and the Maboneng Precinct. Both of these districts offer a safe space and platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses owners to thrive by showcasing their skills through goods and services to an open market.

However, on top of economically-destructive lockdown restrictions, residents have also suffered poor basic service delivery that creates further frustrating challenges for these business owners. Basic services like water and electricity are the key needs of many small businesses. Without them, a hair salon for example would simply not be able to serve customers and would therefore lose an income. Johannesburg residents have endured constant unscheduled power outages due to ageing infrastructure and the additional, unsustainable demand on substations from illegal connections. Water supply is fast becoming a full-blown service delivery crises in Gauteng, with Rand Water having recently disclosed that the province now has demand far exceeding supply, followed by the implementation of water restrictions to mitigate this looming disaster.

While local governments do not control the national economy, they still have a vital role to play in creating the environment for businesses to thrive.

Getting the most basic services back on track for all residents is a priority for the Democratic Alliance (DA). A DA-led Johannesburg would invest R20 billion rand on fixing, replacing and upgrading roads, bridges, water pipes, waste water plants and power grids. On top of this, we would fix water leaks within 24 hours and ensure a vast reduction in electricity outages. A DA government can also ensure a reliable waste collection service so that public spaces used by small business owners and entrepreneurs can remain clean and welcoming to customers and clients.

But this cannot be where service delivery ends. Small business owners like those who operate at Victoria Yards and the Maboneng Precinct need more support from the Municipality. A DA-led Johannesburg would ensure that there are more Opportunity Centres throughout the City to support businesses and encourage entrepreneurs, while also playing a crucial role in offering skills development for jobs and apprenticeship programmes for young people to gain valuable skills and work experience.

The DA already has the proven track-record to get things done in Johannesburg. Between 2016 and 2019, we replaced 325km of water and sewer pipes which reduced leaks from 29% from 19%.

The DA is the only party with a track record of delivery in government. We have shown time and time again that where we get a full mandate, we get things done for residents and businesses. While we govern fewer than 10% of SA’s municipalities, the five best-performing municipalities are DA-run. The best-performing metro and province are also DA-run.

The local elections on 1 November are a crucial opportunity for the people and businesses of Johannesburg to finally have a council that gets things done for them.

Urgent intervention required to help small businesses and boost City’s local economy

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are already in dire straits due to the Covid-19 pandemic and need urgent intervention to sustain their businesses, yet they are not getting enough support from the current government.

Private entities such as SOKO District have now taken it upon themselves to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them grow their businesses.

 SOKO District in Rosebank is assisting entrepreneurs with a retail platform to showcase their products. During my oversight visit and engagements with the management of the SOKO District as well as the various retailers at Rosebank Mall, I discovered that entrepreneurs need access to such assistance provided by SOKO District to grow and become competitive role players in their respective industries.

SOKO District is providing smart access set ups for retailers to rent enough space and not be burdened with costs of shops and shop-fittings. They have used online technologies to enable entrepreneurs to apply for retail space.

This is a great opportunity for retailers who can develop export-quality merchandise and are now able to sell their goods in a high-end mall at a fraction of the traditional cost and without the uncertainty of passing trade. Without the SOKO District, excellent small retailers would be condemned to some flea-bitten run-down venue, totally crowded out by the corporate giants.

These entrepreneurs only tasks are design and manufacturing. Without these obstacles, these entrepreneurs have now launched brands that can rival any of the mega-brands in department stores.

 They share a common point-of-sale system. The layout and look are high-class. Whereas other malls have provided pop-up opportunities, the collective district concept boosts the image, products, and the brands of these risk-takers into the major leagues.

The DA commends SOKO District for its innovative model and the opportunity it has provided to emerging entrepreneurs.

We will continue to strengthen public and private partnerships to grow the City’s economy. The DA-led City of Johannesburg administration that will be voted into power on 1 November will prioritise economic growth that will be led by small businesses. 

We will also give a mandate to the City’s Department of Economic Development to partner with private enablers to make further expansion of small business opportunities and encourage the growth of the SOKO District model among the City’s private partners.

This can only become a reality when we vote for change by voting for the DA to get things done.

Illegal Zamamphilo gold mining camp can result in Johannesburg’s own Chernobyl

The Zamamphilo gold mining camp in Ward 68 of Riverlea poses a serious risk to residents both of the camp and surrounding areas such as Horseshoe.

This camp, situated on top of both a Sasol gas pipeline as well as a Transnet fuel pipeline, is in fact an illegal mining camp and not an informal settlement. There is also a Rand Water pipeline underneath the camp.

Should the gas and fuel come into contact, this can result in a fatal explosion for much of the surrounding areas. The illegal miners are underground without the use of professional equipment or engineers. Should these miners get too close to these pipes and accidentally hit them, Johannesburg could see itself dealing with its own Chernobyl.

The existence of this camp also affects service delivery for residents of surrounding areas, where illegal electricity connections cause constant power outages for surrounding suburbs. With the illegal mining, water mains have been broken, while heavy metal has been introduced to the environment.

The increase in population of this mining camp has also resulted in an surge in crime, where miners often end up shooting each other during the day.

These were some of the issues I was presented with during my visit to the Zamamphilo camp today.

It is imperative that the Municipality immediately commences with the process of relocating those living in this camp, so that their lives, as well as the lives of residents in surrounding areas are not put in further danger and that this illegal mining activity also ceases.

Democratic Alliance Councillor, Mckinnley Mitchell has already called for an urgent debate on the matter in the Johannesburg City Council to take place later this month.

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