Emfuleni and Midvaal enter the record books, but for very different reasons

The neighbouring municipalities are on distinctly different paths.
Midvaal has taken the high road, employing the best professionals for the job instead of making political appointments. Image: Getty Images

Emfuleni includes the towns of Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark, while Midvaal extends from Alberton in the south of Johannesburg to the Vaal Dam and includes the town of Meyerton.

Emfuleni recently entered the legal record books after being slapped with a R492 million default judgment for breaches of contract for the installation of smart meters. This is par for the course for this municipality, where residents complain of raw sewage sloshing through the potholed streets and rubbish going uncollected for months.

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Read: Emfuleni Local Municipality shames itself into the legal record books

Contrast this with neighbouring Midvaal, a smaller and more prosperous municipality – and one of the best run in the country, according to Ratings Afrika’s Municipal Financial Sustainability Index (MFSI) survey.

Midvaal’s executive mayor is Bongani Baloyi, who took on the role in 2013 at the age of 26. He is now 33 and something of a legend in mayoral circles, having signed off on six consecutive clean audits and built up reserves of more than R2 billion.

Midvaal is a DA stronghold and Baloyi has a reputation of zero tolerance for corruption.

Emfuleni is ANC-run and is often in the news, but usually for the wrong reasons – not least of all for failing to turn up at court to defend the R492 million claim over a contract gone sour.

Creating ‘the Dubai of southern Africa’

Baloyi plans to turn his corner of Gauteng into the Dubai of southern Africa, attracting businesses to the area with a potentially tantalising offer: cheap and abundant water and electricity.

“Businesses are attracted to municipalities that are well run and deliver good quality services,” says Ratings Afrika analyst Leon Claassen.

“Those that are able to sweeten that by showing a measure of energy independence from Eskom, and lower electricity tariffs, can expect to do even better. Quality of water and consistency of supply is another issue that concerns businesses.”

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Midvaal is on the hunt for private sector partners to take over management of the distribution of electricity and roll out solar energy plants that will wean it off Eskom’s erratic supply, allowing it to offer cheaper energy than the rest of the country.

Another private-public partnership (PPP) will be inked later this year to recycle waste water and inject it back into the system, with surpluses being sold to Rand Water.

Independence

“The two issues that most concern businesses and residents in the area are electricity and water, and we realised some years ago we had to ensure we had some independence from both Eskom and Rand Water,” says Baloyi.

One of the key measures of municipal efficiency is the debtors’ collection rate: 92% at Midvaal, and about 75% at Emfuleni. That’s a huge difference, suggesting Midvaal’s residents are far more inclined to pay for services than their neighbours, based on their satisfaction with the overall quality of services delivered.

The Ratings Afrika MFSI survey takes a broad look at financial sustainability, measured around six components: operating performance, liquidity management, debt governance, budget practices, affordability, and infrastructure development. Municipalities are then given a score out of 100.

Midvaal’s results are exemplary. Emfuleni’s are miserable.

The infrastructure development figures are particularly revealing, with Midvaal earning a Ratings Afrika score of 77 against 21 for Emfuleni.

What this tells us is that Midvaal is not just maintaining its infrastructure, but adding to it. In Emfuleni, just 1.6% of revenue goes into maintenance and repair of infrastructure, against 3.75% in Midvaal.

Source: Ratings Afrika Municipal Financial Sustainability Index survey

Midvaal’s residents are all too aware of the wreckage lurking across the fence in Emfuleni, where the ANC has ruled for decades.

What accounts for this startling difference between two neighbouring municipalities?

“I would say all I have done is my job, and I’ve avoided making political appointments,” says Baloyi.

“The law is very clear as to what is expected and you cannot use local government as a vehicle for political appointees. We employ the best professionals for the job, and I understand my role as gatekeeper against those who want to line their own pockets unlawfully.”

Baloyi’s suggestion for neighbouring Emfuleni?

“I think the rot is so deep that you have cut off a limb. You have to tackle corruption and wastage without mercy.”

He adds that poor service delivery feeds a culture of non-payment, which is very difficult to budge once established.

Outclassing the ruling party

The DA has made a point of outclassing the ruling party where it really counts, at local government level. This, says Claassen, is where governance is of most intimate concern to residents.

The Ratings Afrika survey shows the largely DA-run Western Cape comes out on top with an average MFSI score of 59, with the Free State floating to the bottom with a score of 21. The national average is 37 (or 31 if the Western Cape is excluded).

Midvaal has a much smaller population of 130 000, against Emfuleni’s 777 000. That’s not the only difference. Midvaal has consistently run operating surpluses, while Emfuleni has clocked up deficits of close to R2 billion for the three years to 2019.

In 2018, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu pulled his staff out of Emfuleni when one of those conducting an audit was shot.

Later, the ANC asked Reverend Gift Moerane, Gauteng provincial secretary of the South African Council of Churches, to take over as mayor and try to clean the place up.

In what was perceived as a brazen case of political gerrymandering, the Municipal Demarcation Board attempted to merge the two municipalities in 2013 but agreement was reached to abandon the idea in 2015.

Midvaal residents have seen what lies across the fence, and they want no part of it.

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Whatever the Commie / ANC touches turns to fertilizer with huge debt.They just cannot help it. it is their creed , their standard. What is typical that they try to mix the utter mess they create with functioning items of similar nature to camouflage their incompetence and corruption. Just waiting to see how their National Health scheme will destroy the private health sector.

South Africa’s key challenge is for voters to connect their quality of life to their choices at the ballot box.

This requires education and critical thinking, and the ANC’s destruction of the education system has been its major electoral windfall.

When I was still in school one of my teachers placed an anonymous quote on the wall, “The secret of success is hard work. Perhaps that is why it will always remain a secret”…..(to the ANC!)

Despite having the best constitution in the world, it’s not worth the paper it is written on because their is no indenpendance for its enforcement.

The social contract with society has been ripped apart and spat on by the socialists.

The voters got what they voted for, one a thriving municipality and the other an abortion gone wrong.

DA (Midvaal) vs ANC (Emfuleni) – that’s all you had to say in your article…

When “the accountability lies with the collective” the sewage runs down the street and the taps run empty in the bankrupt ANC municipality.

When the accountability lies with the individual voter, he appoints an accountable municipal manager who ensures that the sewage and drinking water are kept separate and that potholes are fixed in a thriving municipality.

It all starts and ends with the mindset of the voter. Morally bankrupt voters live in bankrupt municipalities and they display their mindset in public by letting the sewage run down the street.

This is the power of democracy. It allows citizens to display their cognitive ability through their vote. It empowers people to turn their environment into a manifestation of their mindset.

With all its faults, real or imagined, the D A is the only political party that can save South Africa. Lets hope that the voters vote out the ANC next year.

And you are correct because even though the DA is not exactly making their life easy for themselves with a lot of shooting of their own feet – they are literally the best of what is available on the menu. The rest are all worse than the ANC…..

End of comments.

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