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GladAfrica and Ward 58 – the DA has its problems

In this coming election, the DA’s offer I think is more or less that you might not like their policies but they’re at least honest and competent administrators.

Two recent stories have raised doubts about this offer for me – the GladAfrica scandal and what’s going in Ward 58 of Johannesburg.

According to ENCA Tshwane is finally cancelling its R12 billion GladAfrica contract after it resulted in about R1.7 billion worth of irregular expenditure.

The contract was central to the conflict between former mayor Solly Msimanga and the city manager Moeketsi Mosola.

The current mayor Stevens Mokgalapa has said that it tainted the DA’s clean governance image.

Msimanga is currently the DA’s candidate for Gauteng’s premier, and according to The Citizen he could end up winning it.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi the ANC must prepare to lose the province, in part because of e-tolls.

“Every time a motorist drives through a gantry, the ANC loses a vote,” he said.

Meanwhile The Daily Maverick has reported that Ward 58 in Johannesburg has failed in every metric regarding local governance.

According to the report, problems include dumping, businesses illegal business, a dying substation, burst water pipes, overflowing sewers, blocked storm water drains, slumlords, illegal buildings, stolen manhole covers and the sidewalks suck.

This was a ward that DA said they’d make into a showcase for how well they governed, and they couldn’t even stop a Pakistani illegally building an entire mall.

This is just one of 50 illegal buildings that have gone up.

Two entire residential streets have been illegally turned commercial – as Mayfair serves as a distribution hub for the The Somalian Community Board as they dispatch goods into the various township businesses.

Councillor Alex Christians responding to the report by claiming that his job was simply the promulgation of by-laws, not service delivery.

The DA campaigned in Ward 58 claiming it would be a showpiece for their administrative skills.

My Take

I don’t have any particular political allegiance. I’ve been considering the DA carefully because while I disagree with their economic ideology, the ANC has not impressed me with their ability to run things.

I view cadre deployment and the way people who were caught out in cases of corruption and gross incompetence keep coming back in different jobs as being pretty central to what I don’t like about the ANC.

What are we seeing here? The GladAfrica scandal is not the sort of thing I want to see on a premier’s record.

When I look at the consequences of the ANC’s failure to do the basic tasks of government, such as enforcing laws and maintaining infrastructure, that illustrates to me the importance of competence.

So I look at Ward 58, and what’s going on there? The bylaws aren’t being enforced, the infrastructure is not being maintained, there is garbage all over the place.

Christians’ response doesn’t save the DA – because if service delivery is up to the city that’s Herman Mashaba, who is a DA mayor.

To some extent I can see that the DA has underestimated how difficult the job really is, and I understand that it is very tough, but if Ward 58 is too much for them, how do they expect to fix the country?

A big chunk of the problem we’ve got as a nation is a basic lawlessness that has taken root. Government has failed to be relevant far too often, and that means people feel too comfortable ignoring it.

The problem with too much of our body politic is an unwillingness to put its foot down, which means it can’t effectively govern. Is the DA capable of correcting this?

We cannot accept failure at this point, whoever it is that is failing. We don’t have the time for it anymore, so I look at these stories and they genuinely hurt the DA’s credibility in my eyes.

Of course it also damages the ANC because the DA’s had two years to deal with the legacy of over two decades of ANC mismanagement. There are no quick fixes, and that goes for changing our ruling party too, we don’t demand perfection but I think it is fair to demand better than this.

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