Jozi: wolves, hye­nas and dogs

The Citizen (KZN) - - Opinion - Martin Wil­liams DA city coun­cil­lor in Jo­han­nes­burg

By-law en­force­ment is weak when thou­sands live in parks and along river beds; taxis rou­tinely drive the wrong way on busy roads; and il­le­gal ad­ver­tis­ers de­face the city with im­punity.

With Her­man Mashaba leav­ing the Jo­han­nes­burg may­oral of­fice today, de­ci­sions are be­ing made about the re­la­tion­ship of the Demo­cratic Al­liance (DA) with the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF). The way our democ­racy works, such de­ci­sions are taken by party lead­er­ship, not by ward coun­cil­lors or vot­ers.

Last week DA in­terim leader John Steen­huisen said: “We are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing we don’t throw Joburg back to the wolves.” Mean­ing the party will not let the ANC re­claim power.

In­deed, it would be bad if the ANC were back in con­trol. On the other hand, there is a per­cep­tion that hye­nas are feast­ing. The EFF are not squeaky clean al­ter­na­tives to the ANC.

Con­sider the Sun­day Times’ Novem­ber 24 main story on how VBS loot helped buy a R5 mil­lion house for EFF leader Julius Malema. There are sim­i­lar re­ports about Malema’s deputy, Floyd Shivambu. The National Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity re­cently an­nounced it would charge three On Point En­gi­neer­ing di­rec­tors with tender fraud. Malema, whose Ratanang Fam­ily Trust was con­nected to On Point En­gi­neer­ing, “will not be charged for now”.

The EFF is also al­legedly linked to the mul­ti­mil­lion-rand Glad Africa scan­dal in Tsh­wane. In­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism unit am­aB­hun­gane names the EFF in “a pos­si­ble kick­back de­rived from a R1 bil­lion fleet tender in­volv­ing the City of Jo­han­nes­burg”.

The DA’s clean gov­er­nance record will be at risk if the party re­mains be­holden to the EFF.

Apart from cor­rup­tion, and ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences over race and prop­erty own­er­ship, an­other re­pel­lant is that the EFF has cost the DA sup­port in Joburg. One coun­cil seat lost, more to fol­low.

Be­fore a July 24 by-elec­tion, ward 109 had a DA coun­cil­lor. The ward in­cludes bits of Morn­ing­side Manor, Wendy­wood, Kelvin, Marl­boro Gar­dens and Alexan­dra. A va­cancy arose when ex­em­plary ward coun­cil­lor Werner Smit re­signed. He was fed up. De­spite Her­culean ef­forts, he re­ceived no ex­ec­u­tive sup­port in deal­ing with EFF-in­spired land in­va­sions.

Ac­cord­ing to Smit, “the mayor’s of­fice ac­tively worked to stop the en­force­ment of by-laws re­lat­ing to land in­va­sions”. Both DA and EFF were pun­ished on by-elec­tion day. In 2016 the EFF had won the bell­wether ward 109 vot­ing district of Setswetla with 679 votes. In the 2019 by-elec­tion it polled 329, while the ANC share in­creased from 668 to 814. The ward (and coun­cil seat) went to “the wolves”.

For sim­i­lar rea­sons the DA will lose ward 120, which in­cludes Le­na­sia South, Hos­pi­tal Hill, Mig­son Manor, Unav­ille and part of Vlak­fontein. Mass­sive land in­va­sions have gone unchecked.

I worked there in 2015-16, help­ing the en­er­getic Vi­nay Chooney win the ward from the ANC. Now res­i­dents say the DA-led ad­min­is­tra­tion is soft on in­vaders.

By-law en­force­ment is weak when thou­sands live in parks and along river beds; taxis rou­tinely drive the wrong way on busy roads; and il­le­gal ad­ver­tis­ers de­face the city with im­punity.

If a DA-led mu­nic­i­pal­ity can up­hold the rule of law, pro­tect prop­erty rights, and de­liver ser­vices ef­fi­ciently to all res­i­dents, a re­la­tion­ship with the EFF might be tol­er­a­ble.

If the EFF is an im­ped­i­ment to the above, don’t throw res­i­dents and coun­cil­lors to the dogs.

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