Two weeks ago, I visited Mkholombe, an informal settlement of Port Shepstone in Southern KZN. It was distressing. Mkholombe’s eight thousand residents share just three taps. They have not a single toilet, neither flush nor bucket. Sewerage runs down the paths and no formal electricity at all lights the shacks of this abandoned community. Like so many others in South Africa’s informal settlements, Mkholombe’s residents are in dire need of services.
Every day without basic services such as clean running water, hygienic sanitation, safe electricity, regular refuse collection, and roads that are well-maintained and well-lit is a day of suffering and humiliation. This is reason enough to make service delivery a top priority. But there is a second reason. Quality service delivery attracts job-creating investment and creates the conditions for business to thrive. And if there is one thing that South Africans need even more than services, it is jobs.
Only the ANC and DA have a history of governance. They are the only two parties you can judge on a track record and when you do you will find that the ANC is falling woefully short while the DA is doing extremely well in delivering basic services, and particularly to South Africa’s poorest. Independent, hard evidence to support this claim comes from two main sources: municipalities and households.
StatsSA’s municipal census released last month shows that over 98% of indigent households in the Western Cape, where the DA governs, benefit from indigent support in each of the four categories of basic services – water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal. The exact figures are 99.8%, 99%, 98% and 98%, while the SA averages are 68%, 63%, 59% and 58% respectively. StatsSA’s community survey released this month shows that the Western Cape leads all provinces in provision of piped water, improved sanitation and electricity, providing to 97%, 95% and 97% of all households respectively.
So our offer is not pie-in-the-sky stuff; it is real, proven and life-changing. Quality service delivery requires a municipality to be three things: honest, capable and willing. DA local governments have proven themselves to be all these things. This is why nine of SA’s top ten municipalities are DA-run. The DA still has an enormous amount of work to do to eliminate poverty in the Western Cape, but we are making progress every day.
Our manifesto lays out our programme for delivering on our promise of better service delivery, particularly to the poorest. The upgrade of informal settlements and their provision of serviced sites and appropriate bulk infrastructure, such as water and sanitation, are absolutely and unequivocally prioritised. We also focus strongly on eliminating all maintenance backlogs for municipal service infrastructure.
We then take it a step further by driving maximum water and energy efficiency: migrating to LED or solar lighting and solar water heaters where possible, promoting installation of water management devices, promote sustainable water and waste reduction and recycling initiatives, and drought management planning. Through this very approach, DA-run Drakenstein Municipality has reduced annual water losses from 35% to 12% in the past ten years, saving many millions of litres and rands in the process.
Our pledge also includes the prompt fixing of roads and street/traffic lights with average repair times in Cape Town being 24 hours for pothole repair and 48 hours for street/traffic light repair.
The DA’s service delivery promise to voters is that we will be absolutely, completely and unequivocally committed to delivering quality services to all residents as rapidly as possible, with poorest residents taking priority. A vote for the DA on 3 August is a vote that changes lives by delivering better services.