The local elections are almost upon us, and on Wednesday August 3, more than 1.8 million people across the metro will go to the polls to choose their local government and vote for ward councillors.
There are still voters, however, who may be undecided as to how to cast their vote. According to the City of Cape Town’s website, the number of seats in council as of June 2016 was as follows: DA 136; ANC 72; ACDP 3; Cope 3; Al Jama-ah 1; African Muslim Party 1; Cape Muslim Congress 1; National Party of South Africa 1, PAC 1; UDM 1; and Freedom Front Plus 1.
So what do the parties contesting this year’s elections stand for? Here’s a brief overview of some of the larger parties’ manifestos:
The DA says the country is at a crossroads. “Constitutional and democratic institutions are under threat, as highlighted by the Constitutional Court’s Nkandla ruling. More than 8.2 million South Africans do not have a job, inflation is putting the most basic goods out of the reach of the majority of South Africans, the economy is suffering and we face a credit rating downgrade. Corruption and empty promises are holding us back.”
Among other things, the DA says it will:
* Speed up delivery of title deeds to occupants of state-subsidised houses.
* Use state infrastructure to connect poor communities to the internet, and use libraries, clinics and municipal facilities to create wi-fi hubs.
* Attract the next generation of municipal officials through graduate recruitment programmes.
* Work with provincial governments to increase access to drug and alcohol addiction treatment programmes.
The ANC maintains the Constitution is grounded in the Freedom Charter, which continues to be the foundation of democratic South Africa which, it says, “enjoins all of us to build local government”.
Before 1994, says the ANC, “there was a fragmented system comprising over 1 000 local authorities for white people, Africans in urban areas, African communities in homelands, and Indian and coloured communities. The arrangement was designed to systematically divide the people.
“Unlike the apartheid system of local governance, our democratic system of local governance seeks to unite people and build better communities.”
The ANC says it will:
* Improve access to municipal services and reduce outsourcing in municipalities.
* Enhance the capacity of the local state to deliver on its mandate.
* Intensify the fight against fraud and corruption in local government and social fabric crimes .
* Promote education as the apex priority in local communities.
• Improve health in urban and rural communities.
* Help municipalities adapt to the changing climatic conditions.
* Build spatially integrated communities.
* Promote nation-building and socially cohesive communities.
The ACDP says its platform is based on the biblical standard of reconciliation, justice, compassion, tolerance, peace and the sanctity of life, the individual, the family and community.
The ACDP was the only party to vote against the adoption of the final version of the South African Constitution, because it allows for abortion on demand and the specific protection of sexual orientation.
Among others, the party says it will
* Build social cohesion, address poor governance at local level, create an environment conducive to job creation and poverty alleviation, restore integrity and investor confidence and and protect and strengthen communities.
* Provide reliable, trustworthy councillors who are passionate about addressing the needs and improving the lives of people in their respective municipalities.
* Promote the development of affordable, better quality housing through community-owned self-help schemes, cost-effective technology.and by holding contractors accountable for poor workmanship.
* Urgently review and publish housing waiting lists.
* Ensure that parks, libraries, playgrounds and other facilities are safe, accessible and well-maintained; and see that infrastructure such as sewerage treatment plants and land-fill sites keep pace with housing developments to prevent pollution and unhygienic living.
Cope says local government in South Africa has been “serially in a state of crisis” and where it works, in most cases, it is on the brink of failure.
“Corrupt and self-serving politicians, presiding over an incapable and incompetent management, quickly dissipate the budget and therefore no money is left to fund proper services.”
Local government, Cope believes, must take a lead in forging racial harmony and unity. Cope-run municipalities will vigorously strive for racial harmony and such municipalities will therefore be better, more prosperous, and safer places to live in.
Among other things, COPE says it will:
* Improve layout in residential areas in each ward; especially in informal settlement areas so that every home is accessible so that in time informal settlement areas can become formal.
* Install fire-fighting equipment in each ward and take steps to prevent fires from breaking out as frequently as they do in the townships.
* Promote the densification of urban areas and limit urban sprawl; and ensure that roads and streets are maintained in proper condition.
* Invest in municipal-based solar, wind and wave energy plants and street lighting and get households to install renewable energy systems cheaply.
* Tackle the root causes of crime and maximise the role of community policing forums and neighbourhood watch groups instead of relying on aggressive policing.
The EFF refers to itself as a revolutionary political movement which seeks to replace the current government with a “progressive, more democratic, responsive, accountable, and corrupt-free government”.
The EFF says there are “massive structural deficiencies” that define local government in South Africa.
Among these, it says, is the way municipalities are funded to reproduce the ”structural and spatial inequalities that existed under apartheid”.
Rich, mostly white areas continue to get the better services, while poor areas, mostly black, still lose out.
Local government in South Africa is designed in such a way that it assumes that all citizens have a job, a house and the other basics that allow them to pay the rates and taxes that sustain a municipality.
The EFF wants a “decisive break from unaccountable and unresponsive municipalities and councillors”.
It promises that
* EFF municipalities and councillors will report monthly on plans and programmes to create jobs and provide services to the people.
* EFF councillors will have to hold at least one community meeting a month to report back to the people and take the issues that affect the people to the relevant authorities.
* The EFF manifesto is different from the rest because its success will be gauged by the number of jobs the municipality will create, and the number of lives improved.
* It will hold accountable all its municipal officials and will never compromise quality for political expedience. All municipal managers, and all senior managers in the EFF run municipalities will be adequately and relevantly qualified.