Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC-run City of Johannesburg has plunged the lives of thousands of its citizens into crisis due to the extensive billing problems in that city. For much of the past year the city has been unable to bill correctly, due to the failure of its R580 million project, Phakama.
For several months, ratepayers have raised questions about the erratic and bizarre billing system that the city commissioned and implemented. The situation has been compounded by ratepayers not being able to gain assistance from the city service centres in order to query bills. One resident, Mike Naidoo, has complained so many times that he now has 17 reference numbers. More than 41 000 ratepayers have received disconnection notices, while in December alone there were 8 000 disconnections. In total, at least 65 000 ratepayers have incorrect bills.
As the billing crisis rose in severity, the mayor of the city, Amos Masondo, denied there was any crisis, giving one an idea of just how out of touch he is with the ratepayers who pay his salary. As is often the case, the ANC blame everyone except themselves, and at one point even the DA was blamed for the chaos!
Another comical defence is that the problems were because of human error, but the buck stops with the mayor and the municipal manager. That is how accountable democratic governments should work. The ratepayers of Johannesburg deserve better!
The billing crisis is just one of the major problems induced by the ANC administration, including street and traffic lights that don't work, potholed streets, crumbling water and sewerage systems, and a predatory Metro Police force. Fortunately, 2011 is an election year, and voters of the city will be able to express their dissatisfaction at the ballot box. If the ANC won't hold its office bearers accountable, then the voters will! Thank you very much. [Interjections.]