DA – it has the best of municipalities, and the worst of municipalities

According to the Citizen the latest Ratings Afrika Municipal Financial Sustainability Index has found most municipalities are facing collapse due to financial mismanagement.

Apparently the very worst one of the lot was Modimolle in Limpopo, which scored 2 out of 100. The best run was Swartland in the Western Cape, with a score of 86.

The best metro, in terms of finances, is Cape Town. The worst is Johannesburg.

All four municipalities I’ve named so far, are DA municipalities.

Aside from the best and worst list, special mention was made of Midvaal, another DA run municipality which is known for being well run, which has improved its score over the last five years, and the ANC run Msunduzi in KwaZulu-Natal which has gotten worse.

Chris Ndlela took over Msunduzi in 2011, when it was placed under administration, and turned it around making it one of the best run municipalities in the country.

Ndlela was an ANC deployee – he wasn’t looking to be mayor, but the party told him to do it, and he did a good job.

In 2016 he was replaced by Themba Njilo.

In an interview with The Witness, Ndlela responded to a question over whether he was bitter about this.

“Ratepayers should get the services they are paying for and if not then they should get an explanation. They are paying a fortune to keep the City running.

“So yes I am bitter, not about not being mayor. I am bitter that as a ratepayer and a resident I can see that things are falling apart but I don’t see heads rolling,” he said.

My Take

The DA’s biggest selling point has generally been that they’re better administrators, I’ve said it myself in the past.

So finding out that the worst run municipality in this country has a DA mayor – that’s not good.

I can forgive Johannesburg having the worst finances out of the big metro. Under the ANC there was the billings crisis, and electricity sales have dropped with load shedding, it is somewhat understandable so long as the situation improves over the next few years.

But even inheriting a problem municipality does not excuse getting a 2 out of 100 in Modimolle.

Sure the DA also have the best run municipalities, but this may be an indication of the DA having a depth problem.

Think about it the way you would a soccer team – it may have the best players on the field, but one of them gets injured and suddenly it has to throw in a 10-year-old basketball player because it has no depth. Is that a good soccer team in the long term?

This is part of why I think we, as a country, should vote for different parties at different levels of government. There is always going to be a talent shortage within any given party, so if it gets too successful its going to have to make compromises.

The DA has ended up looking like a total crapshoot in this, and that’s not something I’m looking for.

The story around Msunduzi to me is very interesting, it shows that the ANC actually does have some talented administrators it could call on, so it fails by choice.

It didn’t need to replace Ndlela, Ndlela was doing a very good job. He had taken a municipality from being under administration, to being one of the best in the country – and now that he’s gone it is backsliding.

And this is the danger of state capture – the talent is there but if it won’t play along with those doing the capturing it will be replaced. To a large extent the ANC needs to lose in order to save the ANC, because there are capable people within its ranks, but capability is being pushed out in favour of corruptibility.

If we as an electorate don’t put up with that, we won’t get that and eventually the ANC can become a good party again.


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