By TIEGO THOTSE, DA councillor candidate for Ward 12 and DA Youth Deputy Provincial Chairperson
In his poem ‘Harlem’, acclaimed American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist, Langston Hughes, asks “…what happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?…” “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load,” he continues. “Or does it explode?” he asks again.
The deferred dream of Makhanda becoming South Africa’s Creative Capital, far-fetched as it may sound to some, certainly does not have to sag like a heavy load, as Hughes puts it. Makhanda has every potential of indeed becoming South Africa’s Creative Capital. The city is already the official host of South Africa’s National Arts Festival and is home to several tourism organisations, arts NGOs, and Rhodes University’s outstanding School of Journalism and Media Studies.
So, where to start? The answer lies at the local government level.
Twenty years of ANC local government has left our city in shambles. From a lack of clean flowing water in our taps to pothole-filled roads (of course, it’s election season, so some roads are currently being fixed), many sewerage overflows across the city, dirty streets, and dark, unsafe streets at night.
Most concerning is that Makana Municipality’s irregular, unauthorised, and wasteful expenditures continue to rise. The muni has failed to provide the Auditor General (AG) with sufficient information for the AG to express an opinion on the municipality for the past two years. This ultimately means that Makana Municipality continues to spend public funds without being able to account for it. The ANC council continues to spend public cash in ways that violate local government regulations, and no one is held responsible.
Furthermore, the municipality fails to bill residents for services delivered, putting the municipality’s cash resources in serious financial jeopardy. As if that were not bad enough, the city owes R101 million to service providers from past years, despite municipal regulations mandating service providers to be paid within 30 days of providing services to the municipality.
In its current dysfunctional state, Makhanda is drifting away from what the founders of Grahamstown Creative City envisioned for this great city’s future. Yet, it is still possible to reverse the slide into becoming another decaying and run-down rural town if residents vote out the ANC, the architects of the deterioration, and replace them with someone more competent.
The DA has simple, uncomplicated measures to turn around this city’s narrative. Plans that will revive Makhanda’s goal of becoming South Africa’s Creative Capital. It all starts with the delivery of essential services. Only the DA has a track record of good service delivery among the political parties fighting the next elections in Makhanda. But don’t take our word for it. Ask the Auditor General, or StatsSA, or Ratings Afrika. DA governments outperform all others. Because the DA gets things done!