Complaints about poor service delivery are a daily occurrence. According to a study done in 2016, between 1999 and 2016, there were 67,750 protests -13 every day (see: Mercury, June 15, 2016).
Invariably the cause of service delivery protests is not because of lack of resources. It is the result of political corruption, in-fighting, incompetence and indifference on the part of those elected to represent ratepayers, residents and taxpayers.
Right now in four provinces service delivery is being hampered because of political in-fighting. In North West, a revolt has broken out over the ongoing corruption of its premier who treats the province as his private fiefdom. In KZN progress and service-delivery is hamstrung by the violent divisions within the ANC, each camp seeking to gain poll position over the feeding trough of financial perks and spoils.
In the Eastern Cape, the city of Port Elizabeth is in gridlock because politicians prefer to waste ratepayers’ money and time on trying to get rid of the mayor simply because, as the malignant Malema of the EFF howls, he is white.
In the Western Cape, the city of Cape Town faces a similar handbrake on progress and functionalism because its mayor, who faces a formidable charge sheet of misdemeanours and shortcomings, refuses to accept the termination of her DA membership.
Whatever happened to the dictum of Batho Pele – which means: We serve? Whatever happened to the meaning of the concept of public representative? No voter, regardless of party affiliation, ever voted for political gridlock.
The democratic process of which mantras and hosannas abound is not mandated to produce a crop of power-hungry, greedy, self-serving representatives. It is thereto reflect the wishes of the people. In that respect, regardless of political affiliation, voters want competent management of the resources their rates and taxes produce.
The courts should not be the umpires of political squabbles and dissent. Political parties need to have in place stringent codes of conduct which prevent the kinds of mayhem that is engulfing provinces and municipalities. And public representatives need to appreciate that because they owe everything to the voters who elected them, their focus needs to be 100 percent on their constituents.
Before 1988, when the then National Party decided to politicise municipal elections, the election of councillors was based on community standing and perceived competence. Municipal shutdowns, gridlock along with the term ‘service delivery’ were unheard of. Time to hit the reset button.
Sent into The Daily News and published, 12 May 2018.