Debate: State of the City, contribution by UDM Councillor in the Greater Johannesburg Metro Council (12 March 2010)

Honourable Executive Mayor, Madam Speaker and Fellow Councillors.

• In view of the time constraints, one has to be confined to a few areas of the State of the City address. In this case service delivery protests, formalization of informal settlements and electricity.

• The State of the City address should be about telling it like it is, and then saying how the City will address the challenges facing us. Mr Mayor, we feel that your address did not meet this criterion. An honest assessment of the state of the City is this: the backlogs and imbalances of the past remain with us; people are getting more and more impatient.

• Mr Mayor, while we acknowledge and appreciate improvement in some areas like Finance, Transport and others, we also need to acknowledge that a lot still need to be done. The service delivery protests resemble an outcry by the COJ communities who feel that they are left out in the cold. We cannot really claim victory while we have people who are still subjected to life of misery; for example, people of Elias Motsoaledi and other areas, whose plight is really pathetic. This area is one of the first informal settlements in the city; however, very little if anything has been done for this particular area.
• No one can dispute the fact that service delivery is close to non-existent in some areas, while other areas seem to be more favoured, like some areas of Soweto and this triggers dissatisfaction and unrest in other communities.

• Mr Mayor, while you list what you identified as reasons for the service delivery protests, there is no mention of how is the City planning to address these challenges. You have failed to address the “how” question short of citing the Turn-around Strategy as your hope of solving this problem. Mr Mayor, people are tired of rhetoric and want action.

FORMALISATION OF INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS:
• Mr Mayor, the UDM is of the view that the City needs a miracle to meet the 2014 deadline on eradication of informal settlement. This is based on the snail-pace progression of this project. Once again the last paragraph is so vague that one cannot really make sense of it. Does this mean that the people have to build their own houses or the City together with other spheres of government will still provide the houses as promised to the people?

ELECTRICITY:
• Mr Mayor, the UDM share your concern on the impact of this exorbitant tariff hike of electricity, which is four times the level of inflation. There is no doubt that the poor will be the hardest hit by this increase; the irony is that the ruling party supported this move as they were set to benefit in billions from their partnership with Hitachi. It’s sad that the very same people who are supposed to be the advocates for the poor are the ones who are milking them.

• Your Worship, the UDM welcomes the envisaged innovative initiatives and look forward to the implementation thereof. Failure to do that will mean only one thing, the reversal of most of the gains received by the communities. The UDM also supports your lobbying and hope that this will be successful.