The provision of title deeds, water and toilets, policing and jobs made up some of the highlights in the past year as the DA reported back on its first year in government since the municipal elections last year.
One side of the media pamphlet was written in isiZulu, reaffirming that the party’s longstanding campaign to make inroads into the ANC’s strongbase remains in full swing. Add to this the choice of venue for the briefing: the Jabavu Library in White City in Soweto.
Three major cities previously run by the ANC landed in the DA’s hands in 2016, mainly due to a coalition arrangement with other smaller parties in Tshwane and Johannesburg in Gauteng and Nelson Mandela Bay metro in Eastern Cape.
“A new beginning,” boasted a blue rectangular banner forming the background on the front table where DA leader Mmusi Maimane would lead the party’s four mayors in “celebration”. Up to 20 reporters turned up.
“We do not have to live in a world where others can claim they can govern until Jesus comes,” Maimane kicked off the briefing with a reference to President Jacob Zuma’s favourite campaign statement. Sitting next to him were Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille and Nelson Mandela Bay metro mayor Athol Trollip.
He said the DA’s achievements in 2016 were a stepping stone to “a post-ANC national government in 2019.
“Coalitions are a model for the future and we are modelling it at local government,” he said.
Maimane said although managing a coalition “is not always perfect, it fits the framework of local government, which requires consultation”.
He lauded the leaders of the smaller parties, Cope, UDM and IFP, saying: “We have worked so well”.
“We have also worked with the EFF who have agreed to vote with the opposition on an issue by issue basis,” he said.
Maimane said that what the DA inherited from former ANC administrations was “a mess”.
“What we inherited in government was a mess. People think that state capture is only limited to national government but it also happens in municipalities,” he said, referring to widespread allegations that President Jacob Zuma was using his office to enrich family and friends through underhanded deals.
Mashaba said Johannesburg was well on its way to strengthening its hand as the economic powerhouse of Africa. He mentioned jobs, transport, roads, traffic lights and housing among his achievements.
Msimanga said the capital city was technically bankrupt when he took over, and was operating on a R2-billion deficit. He said large sums of the city’s funds were tied up in expensive and illegal contracts. He spoke about improving the budget, provision of free Wi-Fi, smart meters, damage to public property and banning the blue lights.
“This is just the beginning of things to come during this administration,” Msimanga said.
Trollip said the DA identified ahead of 2016 that Nelson Mandela Bay was vulnerable and that there were trust issues between the people and government. He said he had turned that around by providing a transparent and honest government. He spoke of changing inequalities, revenue collection, buckets eradication, toilets and quality housing.
De Lille, who spoke last because it was women’s month, according to Maimane, referred to her other colleagues as “brothers”. She said the DA had the trust and confidence of the people of Cape Town and that was main reason the party managed to retain and grow its votes.
She spoke about green projects, skills development, access to internet, small businesses, job creation, unemployment, black economic empowerment and apartheid spacial planning. Cape Town is the second fastest growing city in South Africa after Johannesburg.
“But we have still been able to improve our record of service delivery,” De Lille said.
Maimane said the DA would continue to ensure that these administrations work hard to improve the lives of the people.
“It has become very clear that we have began this journey, but it is far from complete,” he said.
Setumo StonePolitical journalistCity Pressp:+27 11 713 9001w:www.citypress.co.za e: firstname.lastname@example.org