Panyaza Lesufi revives plan to create Sedibeng metro

District to be nerve centre of premier’s vision

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi says he has already activated a process to see if all the municipalities under Sedibeng district cannot be combined into a single metropolitan city.

Speaking to councillors of the district in Sebokeng yesterday, Lesufi said the government had tried to create a metro in Sedibeng, but it did not work. He said he planned to activate that process again and get it right this time. 

Lesufi was speaking just hours after a group of more than 900 business owners, who call themselves the Vereeniging Business Corporation, told Sowetan they won't be paying for rates and taxes to Emfuleni council from November after years of failed service delivery. 

He said he was in talks with cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Mzi Khumalo to turn Sedibeng, which is made up of Midvaal, Emfuleni and Lesedi local municipalities, into a metropolitan municipality.

“We can only solve long-term problems of these municipalities here if we convert all these municipalities into a new metro of Sedibeng. I have assigned the task to the MEC to start that process again.

“That is the only way we can sustain [development]. This thing of intervention and intervention is unsustainable. We need a long-term strategy. I have met with the MEC. They are starting that process of analysing why it failed, fix the problem that made it to fail so that we can be in a position to solve it,” Lesufi said.

Of the three municipalities that make up Sedibeng, only the DA-led Midvaal seems to be stable and has enjoyed better performance consistently for years. The ANC in the province has previously maintained that having a single metro, which can pull the resources of all the local municipalities together, is better than having smaller councils who are struggling to deliver services.

In 2015, the Pretoria high court set aside a decision by the Municipal Demarcation Board to amalgamate Midvaal and Emfuleni into a metropolitan municipality which was victory for the DA.

Lesufi told councillors that the Sedibeng district would become the first area where all the programmes of his administration would be implemented.

“As the premier of the province, I have adopted Sedibeng as my terrain of operation. Even though I was born and bred in Tembisa, whatever this provincial government will do, if it does not start in Sedibeng, it is not a real thing.

“What we are saying is that we will test our programmes [to see] if they are working in Sedibeng. If they cannot work in Sedibeng, we can’t expand it anywhere because it cannot not work,” Lesufi said.

Among the programmes Lesufi wants to introduce is using technology and young people to fight crime in the province. This will be done by introducing 6,500 new Gauteng police officers. These will be supported by 400 hi-tech vehicles which will be deployed in each ward and 180 drones and five helicopters.

He also wants to sign a memorandum of understanding with all local municipalities to allow provincial government to tar all roads in townships and informal settlements.

Lesufi said he has started engaging the national government to intervene in the legal battle over R1.3bn that  Emfuleni owes Eskom. He said he has also appointed a legal firm to assist the municipality.

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