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Participation in LGE wanes due to poor service delivery
21 September 2021, 7:57 AM

The 2021 Local Government Elections (LGE) will take place in about five weeks and in recent years participation in elections has waned, with some questioning the purpose of voting at the local government level as service delivery remains very poor.

South Africa has seen a spike in protests often sparked by unsatisfied residents demanding services from the government of the day.

Municipalities are the sphere of government closest to the people. Often seen as grassroots governance, they have a bigger impact and influence over the daily lives of citizens.

South Africa has 278 municipalities, comprising eight metropolitan, 44 district and 226 local municipalities, many of these are marred by the thorny issue of service delivery, where residents in both rural and urban communities regularly express unhappiness over shoddy services.

LGE provides a platform for voters to have their say at the polls in five weeks about who governs their municipality.

As the country gears up for the local government elections, political parties have been crisscrossing the country asking for a chance to govern and promising a better life for ordinary South Africans.

LGE 2021 | Service Delivery Gauge

Local government expert Tshepang Molale explains the purpose of the elections and what voters should consider: “The function of municipalities is to provide services to local citizens in a way that is packaged and contextualised within a local setting. It is to take services that all different government departments have to offer and then package them in a manner that would be quickly, efficiently and readily available for local communities in specific wards.”

“Another function or the importance of having municipalities is to also afford citizens direct access to government planning where we talk about facilitating community participation processes where local communities can inform different plans, projects and development interventions that community municipalities must offer. There are different levels or types of municipalities – you have your local municipality, a district municipality and a metro so all these municipalities differ in terms of scope, economic outlook and capacity,” added Molale.

In the build-up to the Local Government Elections due to be held on November first, voters will be looking to have their grievances on service delivery resolved. Political party campaigns are in full swing with parties visiting townships and rural areas, promising services as the voting day draws closer.

Over the weekend, African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa received a hostile welcome from some residents in Soweto over the electricity crisis in the township.

Johannesburg is one of the eight metros in the country while Gauteng has over 6 million registered voters, the party will look to secure after losing it to the Democratic Alliance (DA) in 2016.

Molale says the current attitude towards the ANC is not surprising.

“It is not surprising. We have seen public moral weaning down in the last few years against the ruling party so it is not surprising to see the community is displaying that kind of apathy or negative attitude towards the President and his political party. But this has got a lot more to do with the public perception that the ANC has generated. Several ANC players are being associated with corruption cases that they are undergoing,” says Molale.

According to a recent survey by marketing firm, Ipsos – support for the ANC will dwindle and Molale says the party’s image has been dented.

Molale says, “Metros I foresee that they are an area that will be very interesting to watch particularly in the last five years. We know that the ANC lost power in key metros and then we had power sharing agreements. The ANC’s public image hasn’t helped itself that could give one the idea or the belief that they might still win the metros.”

After the elections, all eyes will be on which party will be given a chance to change the lives of ordinary people.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has not made things easier for parties as efforts to go all out to garner support have been severely restricted.

Reports of corruption increased during COVID- 19:

Cape Town to spend over R140 million on security for empty plots of land
21 September 2021, 7:13 AM

The City of Cape Town says its housing projects have been severely impacted by a surge in gang violence, extortion rackets, sabotage and theft.

City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi says the city will be spending R143 million for private security on some of these empty pieces of land – money that could have been used to build more houses, in a city with a backlog of about 300 000 units.

The Human Settlements Directorate says it has spent more than R131 million over the past two years on housing projects affected by growing trends of criminality.

The City says some disruptions have been violent and resulted in the loss of life, injury and damage to property.

In Mitchells Plain, the construction of 1 800 units at Beacon Valley has been delayed. It’s the same for over 400 housing units at Backstage and 7 000 others at Monwabisi Park in Khayelitsha.

The city says land grabs, extortion and gangsterism have delayed these projects, saying it’s the same type of criminality targetting the human settlement sector in several areas of the city.

Housing projects derailed by vandalism and land grabs in Cape Town:

Booi says in some instances developers have pulled out as extortionists take hold.

“About two years ago we were supposed to start with civil work so that in the next year which is 2022 we can be able to start with the top structures of 1800 units, it’s a city-wide problem and we have now invested more than R143 million in making sure we secure these cities across the city, it’s not only invasions that have deterred many projects,” says Booi.

The city says it has its sights set on particular suspects.

Booi added: “These invasions, some of them are orchestrated by people whom we believe are doing shack farming, meaning people are taking rent from people, they put up structures and its people with a lot of money because they put up quite a number of structures and then they rent them out to those vulnerable members of the community and now they are making a business out of it, but we are dealing with it,” says Booi.

Zuma, Thales case back in court
21 September 2021, 5:51 AM

The corruption case against former President Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thales is back in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.

The trial was postponed earlier this month for Zuma’s application that state prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer, recuse himself due to alleged bias.

Zuma and Thales are facing charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering in connection with the 1999 arms deal. The trial has been postponed twice since August due to Zuma’s ill-health.

While serving an unrelated contempt of court prison sentence, Zuma underwent an operation 5 weeks ago and has since been granted medical parole.

The State previously questioned medical reports about this pre-existing condition, which has not been publicly disclosed.

Should the defence request another postponement, the court has ordered that evidence should be led in the application.

TIMELINE | Jacob Zuma and the Arms Deal

UN chief, UK PM convene leaders on climate change
20 September 2021, 1:00 PM

With less than six weeks to go before world leaders convene for a major climate summit in Glasgow, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a round table of world leaders on Monday to address major gaps on emissions targets and climate finance.

The closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the annual high-level week of the UN General Assembly will include leaders from a few dozen countries representing industrialized nations, emerging economies, and vulnerable developing countries, said Selwin Hart, assistant secretary-general and special adviser to Guterres on climate action.

“The alarm bell needs to be rung,” he told reporters last week. “Countries are not on target, really, to bridge these gaps in mitigation, finance, and adaptation.”

The roundtable discussion aims to ensure a successful outcome at the UN climate conference being held from October 31, 2021, to November 12, 2021, in Glasgow, even as recent reports show major economies being far off track on their emission reduction goals and climate finance commitments.

As of Friday, between 35 and 40 countries have said they would participate but Hart declined to name them.

A UN analysis of country pledges under the Paris climate agreement released on Friday said that under current national pledges, global emissions would be 16% higher in 2030 than they were in 2010 – far off the 45% reduction by 2030 that scientists say is needed to stave off disastrous climate change.

Another report released on Friday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that rich countries likely missed a goal to contribute $100 billion last year to help developing nations deal with climate change after increasing funding by less than 2% in 2019.

The UN expects to hear updates from some of the major economies on how they will strengthen their emission reduction targets and clarity around how to hit the $100 billion goal.

Guterres will also press donor countries and multilateral development banks to show progress toward meeting his goal to increase the share of finance dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change to 50% from the current level of 21%, said Hart.

Hart said that current finance dedicated to adaptation is around $16.7 billion a year, a fraction of the current estimated adaptation costs of around $70 billion a year.

Johnson, the host of the COP26, said at a meeting of the major economies on Friday that the world’s richest countries “must get serious about filling the $100 billion pot that the developing world needs in order to do its bit.”

Guterres told Reuters last week that the upcoming climate summit is at risk of failure.

“I believe that we are at risk of not having success in COP26,” Guterres told Reuters in an interview at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

“There is still a level of mistrust, between north and south, developed and developing countries, that needs to be overcome.”

ConCourt upholds IEC decision to re-open candidate nomination process
20 September 2021, 11:44 AM

The Constitutional Court has upheld the decision of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to re-open the candidate nomination process.

In a judgment handed down on Monday the apex court dismissed the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) application to have the IEC’s decision declared unlawful.

The DA was aggrieved after the IEC reopened the process after a Constitutional Court order that the elections must take place by November 2021 and that a voter registration weekend is held.

The party believes the decision privileged parties such as the African National Congress (ANC) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) that were unable to put in its candidates before the deadline closed on August 23, 2021.

Election date gazetted

The Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has gazetted the election date for November 1.

This means that the voter roll will be sealed at midnight and political parties have until Tuesday to submit their candidate lists to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

According to the IEC, over 600 000 people registered to vote this past weekend whilst over 39 000 people used the online registration voters system which will close at midnight on Monday night.

Dlamini-Zuma says, “I am hoping for much greater youth participation because I think voting is their right which they need to exercise and equality is also their responsibility. If you don’t vote, say for argument’s sake, nobody pitches up to vote, what happens to our democracy? They shouldn’t really feel that it is ignored if they don’t vote because it won’t be there. If they vote, their voice will count and it will determine who gets in and who doesn’t.”

November 1 gazetted as the election date

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