Although some of my issues have been responded to by the Mayor and some Mayco members I had written this speech last night and could not correct it in the available time so please excuse the issues that have been addressed. Also, if I do not complete this address please find this report on my website www.capemuslimcongress.co.za by tomorrow.
Instead of focusing on the detailed line items I have considered the overall impact of the budget on what I consider to be the collective social evolution of the cape society. My concern is the issue of on-going research on how to save and improve the living environment of all citizens.
Some time ago the Finance Portfolio Committee had a workshop on rates and debt collection. Since the city requires 450 000 homes to overcome the existing backlog, in my opinion this is made difficult as locals are struggling to pay municipal accounts such as rates, water and electricity and so on.
Politicians who make promises without understanding budgetary constraints are creating problems. A technique around limited funds is to increase costs on those who pay while writing off debt of those unable or unwilling to pay. The problem with this approach is that people often prefer not to pay.
Non-payment among the unskilled and working class citizens within the City of Cape Town remains high even though 184 998 properties with valuations under R200 000 do not pay rates. In November 2012, more than R42 million was written-off by Council as bad debt. In December 2012 more than R 11 million, in January 2013 R22 million in February R32 million and in March 2013 a whopping R528 377 060 in bad debts was written off. With reduced income and write-offs, the city is unable to build houses, setting the scene for shack camps and future land invasions.
The budgets should also be considered in the light of the fact that, according to reports job loss recently hit 4.6 million, forcing the official unemployed national statistic to 25.2%.
With these facts in mind I have concluded that life is becoming progressively worse for the majority of people. I suggest that to evolve society we must continue to rehabilitate or remove people from society who are unwilling or unable to adapt within reason. I have identified some changes that seem necessary to benefit the budget, ratepayers and Cape Town society in general.
Drug addicts are mostly unemployable and exist on crime. Addicts create chaos and economic loss and have the ability to destroy social relations. By criminalising and locking up the actual addict for being addicted to cocaine, heroin, tik, mandrax and so on communities will be safer and the narcotic supply chain will be severely challenged. This city and province could save millions on vandalism, theft, legal costs and the maintenance of an expanding and costly law enforcement network.
To support this outcome, I encourage the Safety and security component of this Council under the committed leadership of Alde JP Smith to set aside some budget to research legislation with which we could possibly tag and monitor criminals who engage in crime to support their addiction. While this may sound inhuman, how else can we stop criminals from stealing council property in areas where streets lights and other council property are stolen and vandalised on a very regular basis.
Vandals destroy public property making facilities inaccessible in many townships. In the suburbs, the city spends less on vandalism and can afford to upgrade facilities instead of repairing. In parts of Mitchells Plain, officials are questioning the logic of fixing lights and toilets since those who vandalise are seldom caught. Should communities actively report vandals particularly those who target schools, the education department may have additional funds to spend on educators in poorer schools?
How does this budget address the reality that young vulnerable girls continue to become pregnant? Those responsible for Social Development in this Council must continue to research and focus on plans to prevent pregnancy amongst vulnerable young girls.
A few weeks ago Cllr Suzette Little gave a memorable talk at an old age function in Mitchells Plain on issues of personal responsibility. As a Council we need more interventions like this, where Councillors as a collective address issues that negatively affect all of us as a society. The abuse of women and children is not party political abuse harms all of us. Incarcerating men who impregnate susceptible girls will reduce population growth amongst the vulnerable. This will save the city council billions in terms of housing costs and so on.
Drunk Drivers are killers; drunkards are responsible for most road carnage and deaths which costs the economy billions on an annual basis. Drunks are also responsible for wasting limited clinic and hospital resources, road carnage caused by intoxicated drivers; must be reduced. The question is, are we doing enough to minimize drunk driving.
A few months ago I was critical of Alde JP Smith who I believed introduced quota’s for the Metro police underhandedly. In retrospect and with due consideration I am of the opinion that perhaps the quota system is a good thing. I would encourage the initiative of the quota system for metro police across the metro especially with regards to drug related arrests. Research needs to be done in terms of what different communities regard as most imperative. Is parking on a yellow line or in a loading zone more or less important than arresting the hundreds of drug dealers in the City of Cape Town?
According to a media report Hanif Loonat, chairman of the Western Cape Community Policing Forum said that, “Gangsters on the Cape Flats are running circles round the police because gangsters spend millions on gaining superior intelligence, paying off the police and people at ministerial level”.
Had anyone else made this statement, one may be forgiven for ignoring the person. However Loonat was a candidate for the ANC in the local government election.
What does this mean to the rest of us? How does this affect the budget we are discussing? In my opinion it implies that employing a hundred more security personal will not solve the problem of internal corruption. The same applies to traffic officials or metro police who sleep or read the newspaper while parked in the shade of a tree instead of helping motorist journey in safety. While reckless driving and faulty vehicles essentially cause accidents, having road officials visible does help against those who take chances. As a council we need to reiterate that the purpose of the metro police is not primarily to give fines but rather to make our entire living space safe for all citizens.
Furthermore if we want to eradicate poverty, we need stabilize regional population growth. This can be implemented thru a focus on family planning and quality educational programs. It is unsustainable to attempt to reduce poverty and at the same time allow millions of illegal and cross border economic migrants to flood this city. How does this budget address the continuous and unsustainable influx into Cape Town? What monies has been allocated for research and managing this processes.
Poverty displacement from one province or another country to Cape Town needs to be understood in its budgetary context. Those in leadership of this Council should consider how our foreign policy should begin to address the reality that leaders in other provinces and surrounding countries should be held accountable. Instead of permitting Africa’s stolen resources to be hidden by corrupt leaders, economic migrants should be encouraged to demand economic justice from their governments. Cape Town’s ratepayers should not be responsible for sustaining African leaders by accommodating their corrupt behaviour. For example, while King Mswati III of Swaziland parties with his 13 wives 38% of his nation suffers from HIV/AIDS and scarcely have enough to eat.
Politically connected officials cost the taxpayer millions as politicians often appoint friends and supporters. When the politician is replaced the supporters remains and are usually marginalized by the incumbent at huge cost. Since impartial and qualified officials are overlooked, they begrudge the political appointee, this poisons the workplace. Thus, political parties should refrain from overt political appointments and unqualified officials must be removed to create a politically free service delivery environment.
We must also recognise that the “discourse” of reducing the gap between rich and poor is a political aberration. For instance, the City of Cape Town like other cities in South Africa pay some staff in excess of R1.5 million per annum while others earn roughly 5% of that. The wage gap is increasing.
Consequently politics is in effect the skill of getting votes from the poor and election funds from the rich, by agreeing to protect each from the other. Also, “black economic empowerment” has in effect created a few new rich individuals while the vast majority remain poor. The notion of BEE causing wealth to “trickle down” was perhaps the biggest deception by the old and new elite.
About 2000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth said “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven”? This wisdom dictates that South Africa requires a majority middle class with an intellectual ethic and not predatory elite to re-charter a progressive course for the next generation, if we desire success.
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress