Tsh­wane on a sil­ver plat­ter?

CityPress - - News -

The one thing that the DA’s Tsh­wane may­oral can­di­date does not leave his house with­out th­ese days is a gold nametag that says Ex­ec­u­tive Mayor – Solly Msi­manga.

“Th­ese days, I speak as the mayor of Tsh­wane and that’s what I feel like, even when I walk and do every­thing. This nametag stays in my chest pocket and it mo­ti­vates me to think it will hap­pen. The DA will win and I am the next mayor of this won­der­ful city,” he says.

As fate would have it, some­thing hap­pened this week that boosted his con­fi­dence about the prospects of win­ning the may­oral race. The ANC was plunged into dis­ar­ray when its mem­bers in the town­ships took to the streets of Tsh­wane in protest against their own party’s de­ci­sion to de­ploy for­mer pub­lic works min­is­ter Thoko Didiza as its may­oral can­di­date.

They would rather have the gov­ern­ing party de­cide be­tween the in­cum­bent mayor and re­gional ANC chair­per­son Kgosientso Ramok­gopa and his deputy, Mapiti Mat­sena. The two are sup­ported by dif­fer­ent fac­tions, which led the ANC to de­cide on Didiza as a com­pro­mise can­di­date in a bid to sta­bilise the ten­sion be­tween the two groups.

This, how­ever, saw the re­gion be­come the cen­tre of a se­ries of chaotic and vi­o­lent protests.

Msi­manga be­lieves the ANC is gen­er­ously hand­ing the city to him on a sil­ver plat­ter. The protests have es­ca­lated into vi­o­lent scenes that left five peo­ple dead, more than 20 buses torched, in­fra­struc­ture dam­aged and busi­nesses looted.

“I can’t say I am to­tally happy at this week’s events as a citizen of Tsh­wane and can’t re­joice at the sight of buses burnt, build­ings dam­aged, busi­nesses looted and peo­ple killed. I can’t be­cause, at the end of the day, it’s not only the ANC that is feel­ing the wrath of it, but the com­mu­ni­ties,” he says.

“I also do not want to come in and lead a law­less and bro­ken city with dam­aged prop­erty, and spend time and re­sources re­build­ing in­stead of fo­cus­ing on a ser­vice de­liv­ery back­log.

“Yes, as a politi­cian, the dis­or­der in the ANC and the in­ter­nal strife are work­ing to my ad­van­tage. Peo­ple have been say­ing to me the ANC is un­der­min­ing them and they’re go­ing to show it [by vot­ing DA]. It is a plus for us in that branches are not able to or­gan­ise as they con­cen­trate on in­ter­nal bat­tles, but it’s a mi­nus for com­mu­ni­ties be­cause th­ese vi­o­lent protests are rob­bing them of in­fra­struc­ture. And the money spent on re­pairs could have gone to ser­vice de­liv­ery.”

Asked for an opin­ion on his op­po­nent, Didiza, he says: “She comes across as some­body who is very calm, with a good aura, and I like how she pre­sides over the House in Par­lia­ment. But I am wor­ried about any­one who pro­tects [Pres­i­dent] Ja­cob Zuma and who is ap­pointed to toe the party line – [un­like Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor] Thuli Madon­sela, who stood truth­ful to her of­fice and de­tached her­self from her own party.”

Dressed in a three-piece suit with a polka-dot tie, he speaks with a soft but deep voice. Ooz­ing con­fi­dence, the At­teridgeville-born politi­cian prom­ises to crack the whip and change a lot in “clean­ing up the mess left by the ANC”. Among oth­ers things, Msi­manga in­tends to:

Set up a metro po­lice nar­cotics unit to fight drugs, in­clud­ing the in­fa­mous nyaope;

Pre­vent the 40% wa­ter loss due to lack of in­fras­truc­tural main­te­nance;

For­malise in­for­mal set­tle­ments and bud­get bet­ter for in­di­gents to curb il­le­gal wa­ter and elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions;

Es­tab­lish an open pub­lic list process for the al­lo­ca­tion of RDP houses to ad­dress the back­log;

En­sure equip­ment for emer­gency ser­vices and metro po­lice, but have the lat­ter on bi­cy­cles and on foot when pa­trolling the streets; and

Re­vi­talise in­dus­tries around the city and town­ships to cre­ate jobs.

He prom­ises a restruc­tur­ing process that will not re­sult in job losses, but that is aimed at us­ing the mu­nic­i­pal work­force ef­fec­tively by re­de­ploy­ing “mis­placed em­ploy­ees”.

He says he plans to repli­cate the good track record of Cape Town in Tsh­wane by es­tab­lish­ing a cor­rup­tion-free city and a trans­par­ent mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and he plans to en­sure “all peo­ple are equals, re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion”.

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