Disgruntled Emfuleni residents say it’s time for new party to take over from ANC

Residents and rate payers say they feel the effects of the broken municipality every day with a lack of basic service delivery and a sense that elected officials don't care enough to even try.

FILE: Emfuleni residents queue for water on 8 January 2018 amid water cuts in the municipality, which failed to honour its payment arrangement with Rand Water. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/Eyewitness News

EVERTON - With just five days to go until the nation chooses new municipal representatives, residents in the troubled Emfuleni Municipality said it was time for a change.

Evaton falls under the Emfuleni Municipality - an African National Congress (ANC)-run body - that was placed under administration in 2018 and is in debt to the tune of more than R4.5 billion.

Residents and rate payers said they felt the effects of the broken municipality every day with a lack of basic service delivery and a sense that elected officials didn't care enough to even try.

Jack Phakate has lived in Everton for almost 10 years and with every election cycle, there's been a new round of shiny promises.

But, he told Eyewitness News on Monday that the better life he was been promised since 1994 was yet to become a reality.

“Sometimes, you will find that they have not even fetched the rubbish they are supposed to fetch and everything is a mess but at the end of the day, we are expected to pay for services.”

Phakate is not alone in his complaints; service delivery issues have troubled this area for years and often spilling into protest action.

Residents told Eyewitness News there were issues with rubbish collection and in the heat of summer, large sections of the neighbourhood were blanketed in the stench of sewage because of faulty mains that hadn't been dealt with.

Phakisa Mokoena from the local ratepayer’s association is angry about the state of the neighbourhood and believes the council isn't even bothering to try and deliver.

Everton is one of many such broken towns and suburbs across the nation where residents have increasingly lost hope and faith in the local government structures.

The area is home to around 700,000 people with sky high unemployment running to about 70% of the population.

Residents have told Eyewitness News the situation has only gotten worse, accusing elected officials of not even trying to fix the many issues they faced daily.

The Democratic Alliance’s Pieter Verbeek agrees, saying it was the citizens and ratepayers who had to bear the brunt of officials’ underperformance.

The ANC denies it's to blame for the state of the municipality even though it's been in control there since 1994.

During the last local government elections in 2016, it's majority eroded considerably, dropping to 56% from 70% in 2011.

Opposition parties, along with the clutch of independents forming part of Mmusi Maimane's One South Africa Movement, are hoping these will be the elections that change the game for Emfuleni.

BUSINESS COMMUNITY UNHAPPY

The business community of Emfuleni is lamenting the state of service delivery in the area.

Businesses in the area point to a total collapse of basic services, saying it was having a devastating impact on them.

Political leaders at all levels of government are quick to promise support for small and medium businesses, looking to them as a major lynchpin in the effort to create jobs.

But in this municipality, organised business said a lack of basic service delivery made their lives virtually impossible.

They’re pointing to electricity and water interruptions as the biggest issue.

Local business owners decided to take a collaborative approach, with the Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce attempting to partner with the local council to improve services.

The chamber’s CEO Klippies Kritzinger said it was a non-starter, claiming the municipality was just not cooperating.

“The bad thing about this is that we’re getting a lot of resistance from the municipality. That’s the one thing I cannot understand.”

Emfuleni ratepayers tell a similar story of an unresponsive council that seems to not care about fixing things.

Now chair of the Emfuleni Ratepayers Association Kobus Janse van Rensburg said they wanted to take service delivery issues further, adding that they could not keep paying for services they were not getting.

“We’re now going to go after the people in the position that are supposed to be doing their work.”

Janse Van Rensburg blames the phenomenon of cadre deployment, something the ANC has promised in its manifesto to address.

The party has seen support in this area decline precipitously over the last two elections and with organised business and residents running out of patience, it could be in for a rough ride at the polls next week.

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