My Take With Mbangwa Xaba

A mere 8 million votes – an equivalent of uKhozi FM listeners, got the current cohort of municipal politicians into office. In essence, the South African voters have turned their backs on elections.

Tersely, the message from the 2021 elections was that the grim reality of South African municipalities has alienated voters. Rampant mismanagement, poor service delivery and the high volumes of political bickering must end, immediately.

Yet three months since the poll, most of our mayors are dead silent. This is not only worrisome, it is frightening.

We are a nation in dire straits, we can ill afford mummified stooges in town halls’ power corridors. With no water, intermittent electricity supply, swimming pool size potholes, sewerage flowing on the streets and a dejected people, you can’t be quiet; NO!

Wake up!

We are battling the worse kind of decay. There is urban sprawl characterised by burgeoning informal settlements that has taken over many cities and towns. Stemming from beneath the ground with collapsing infrastructure; road infrastructure riddled with potholes. The rot goes right up to the top thugs clad as public representatives ransacking the public purse in daily thefts.  

As some kind of sobering thought, mayor and executive mayors, over and above just getting the basic things right, can you please focus on building a common secured future. Our biggest challenge is managing migration to the cities by rural poor and foreign nationals.

These groups are seeking better economic opportunities, not a retreat. These people, mostly young, some highly skilled, are presented to you by economic disparities, inequality and unemployment. To them urban living holds the promise of improved conditions. But because our cities and towns are not responsive to these needs, they bring with them crowded living conditions, informal settlements, inadequate sanitation and possible exposure to crime and violence.

It would be easier if you focused on rural and regional development. Rural regions are key to primary economic sectors (agriculture, forestry, and fisheries) which are the foundations for economic activity. They are an important location for manufacturing and most rural workers, this is especially true for Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Instead of short-term xenophobic skop en donder, shouldn’t our cities be twinning with cities in our rural regions and neighbouring countries to create employment in primary sectors while growing the cities to excel in service sectors such as tourism, health care, education, finance and public administration?

In fact, as you act in this manner locally, you could be addressing global challenges. The battle to achieve the global society’s stated objectives on hunger and poverty reduction will be won or lost in the rural areas of the developing countries.

The world has woken up to this reality. Small towns and rural communities throughout the US are looking for ways to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life, and build on local assets The same thing is happening in Europe, Asia and Russia.

Based on friendship and trust, twinning can be a source for exchanging experience and mutual enrichment in numerous areas. We can see this from the partnerships that developed between European towns around projects on waste treatment, water management, economic development and improving social services, all thanks to twinning.

Your worships, you govern with a fragile political consensus of multi-party coalition. This, by its very nature, necessitates the ability to build co-operation on your part. You operate under the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought about economic misfortunes. These conditions demand of you to be unifiers and be on the side of the vulnerable and poor.

History compels you to pay attention to the impoverished, the marginalised, hugely patient and benevolent black township-based residents who hold the key to our nation’s success on the one hand, a ticking timebomb on other.

Crime as a phenomenon is growing across South Africa and is taking various sophisticated shapes and forms. Among the new forms, there is a growing threat on social cohesion and societal peace. Land grabs and shack farming by mostly foreign nationals has created a new community of unregistered and unaccounted for residents. Furthermore, spaza shops have become crime hotspots, paddling drugs, money laundering and human trafficking.

Large operations are mushrooming on the back of cash payments and slave labour. Desperate foreign nationals are a major source of cheap labour. Some domestic employers and even established companies are either complicit or turning a blind eye on this crime. In the guise of ‘avoiding stringent’ labour laws, many are creating a new underbelly of crime.

Municipalities must support the formation of township grassroots organisations to look at the day-to-day security needs of township residents.

Dear Mayor, if I may, I implore you to realise that it is your municipality that will harvest great benefits, if you were to work in partnership with communities. We must be deliberate in partnering efforts because these days the state has a purely transactional relationship with communities. Work with residents, neighbours and rural communities as partners in a common future, that’s the only hope you and all of us have. Afterall, it is by protecting the poor majority that you will secure your own uncertain future.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *