Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tshwane (Pretoria) State of the City Address response

As a candidate for the ACDP in the city of Tshwane (old Pretoria) for ward 47 in the coming local government elections, I was privileged to attend the last city council meeting before the elections.
The meeting was last Friday, February 17, 2006. The morning session was devoted to the responses of the different parties in the city council to the State of the City Address given by the major of the city on Thursday, February 16, 2006.
This was truly an eye opener to listen to these parties and also to note the reactions of the parties to the answers given by the ruling ANC party to those responses.
One thing I am grateful for is that I am not involved with the DA party. I have never seen such disrespect for anyone as these people showed to the ANC. When the DA's mayoral candidate gave his response to the mayor's address, the council chamber was almost completely silent. However, by the time the ANC gave their rebuttal to the different responses the council members from the DA started behaving like a bunch of puerile teenagers, heckling and shouting unwanted comments. How is it that the other council members from the other parties let the DA candidate speak in peace for 30 minutes, yet the DA could not afford the same courtesy to those who let them speak in peace?
The way that it appeared to me is that the DA only knows how to run a negative campaign. This seems to be very immature. To see grown men and women behave like this was simply sad!
I would here like to give a short response of my own to the mayor's address.
One of the first things that I noticed is how the mayor claimed that under ANC leadership, "a society where the traditional race, class and gender divisions are being systematically undermined." I am not so sure the mayor had his facts correct. I have previously shown how the ANC government is perpetuating racism in this country.
He further claims that the country is still divided into black and white, only in sport such as rugby and soccer and also on national commemorations such as Women's Day and Freedom Day. This plainly is not true as whites are being systematically removed from jobs to be replaced by blacks, many without the necessary expertise, or as our President Mbeki says, "lack of capacity." This is simply reverse racism. It is fine to give a black person a job because he is the best candidate for the job, but to give him a job simply because he is black is racism! Just because this person was a comrade in the struggle and knows how to use an AK47, does not mean he will be able to use a computer or do city planning!
Next he claimed that former whites-only areas have "experienced even better development... with...stormwater systems." I don't know where he has been in the last month, but we have seen cars in the city with water higher than their wheels. These stormwater systems did not work adequately!
Boasting about how the ANC local government improved the city was rife in his speech. The city spent R154.5m to electrify houses and public places. Another R173.8m was spent on upgrading street lights and more. Water and sanitation was maintained with R100m. Add another R530m in rural areas for water and sanitation. Just to remind you, this was over a period of 5 years. The amounts certainly sound impressive. However, this needs to be put into perspective. The proposed budget for 2006/2007 is R8.5b. The budget over the last 5 years amounted to approximately R35b. Now, can you see how puny the amounts seem that I mentioned above? Especially when seen in the light of R35b!
A further point that crops up again and again is the issue of women. The mayor spoke of the fifty-fifty principle concerning women. He said that "we must play our role in the national democratic transformation of our society by bringing the women of our city from the sidelines to the centre stage through the implementation of the Employment Equity Act and other policies which promote gender equality." My question to this is: What does it really mean? Does it mean equal opportunity or equal representation? In my opinion, equal representation forces a situation in which incapable people are employed simply for the sake of gender representivity! Rather employ capable people, no matter if they are black or white, male or female! I get the distinct impression that the ANC is busy creating a vacuum in society where men simply have nothing of value to add.
Another proud statement by the mayor is that "in the past five years [they have created] more than 5 000 jobs of varying periods of engagement per annum, directly within the Municipality." My contention is that government should not be an employment agency. Actions like this bloat an already overweight institution that wastes the taxpayers money. It is government's job to create laws and an environment in which the private sector can thrive, hence growing to such an extent that more REAL jobs are created. A more streamlined, lightweight local government staffed with capable people upfront, will ensure that many more funds will be available from the budget for maintenance and worthy causes such as social upliftment and care for the needy.
The mayor quoted the Mozambican poet, Marcelino dos Santos,
Our land is open to the frank embrace of hope.
This is certainly a positive sign that the mayor wants hope for the people. As a former priest in the church, the mayor (an ANC comrade) should realize that hope cannot come riding on the wings of materialistic ideals. Hope is in Christ and Christ alone! While he is sitting in the chair of the ANC party proclaiming the ideals of the ANC, he is divorced from REAL hope, which can only be found in the hope-giver, Jesus Christ! Hope cannot be realized in the ideals of man, but only in the real offer of salvation in Jesus Christ!
Just thinking...

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