The gloves are off in the battle for control of the Mangaung Metro, which includes Free State’s capital Bloemfontein.
With less than a month before the 2016 municipal polls, political parties are out in full force to woo the voters in a bid to snatch the metro from the governing African National Congress (ANC).
The ANC has however vowed to put up a gallant fight to retain the municipality.
Mangaung was declared the first-ever Free State metro ahead of the 2011 municipal elections.
The struggling Naledi Municipality and Soutpan, which currently falls under the Masilonyana Municipality, will be incorporated into Mangaung.
Although Mangaung was upgraded five years ago, not everyone is happy with the progress so far.
“They have not been able to eradicate the bucket system for the last ten years. In fact, is the metro with the biggest backlog in terms of bucket systems,” says one frustrated resident.
Another resident says water is scarce in the Free State.
The R400 million taxi rank in the Bloemfontein CBD has been used by various political parties as a rallying point.
The facility is certainly the most expensive white elephant in the country.
It has been lying idle for more than five years after it was rejected by taxi operators for failing to meet the industry’s safety specifications.
But the ANC’s mayoral candidate for the metro, Olly Mlamleli, says the matter will be one of her priorities.
“In this financial year, the people of Bloemfontein they will see it happening, but we are not only to work as Mangaung, we are going to work will all the stakeholders and the taxi industry.
More than 37% of the youth in Mangaung are unemployed.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Mangaung Metro mayoral candidate Lehlohonolo Letuka says: “One of the key things for this metro is to create an environment that would be attractive to the potential investors to come back and invest in the Mangaung Metro. You will see when you go on the N8 – many of the factories there are not functional.”
Just over 46% of more than 230 000 households have piped water.
Free State Congress of the People (COPE) Chairperson, Papi Kganare says the party commits to maintaining infrastructure for proper water supply in the province.
“Most of the dams in the Free State have been built in such a way that you can have drought for two years but still have water. But because of the governing party who failed to maintain infrastructure, we have problems. The first thing we will do is to make sure that the infrastructure is properly maintained.”
Free State Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Kgotso Morapela, says the poor will be exempted from paying rates and taxes should the party win.
“We will make sure that disabled people, the aged don’t pay services because we understand that they cannot afford to pay services, but those who can afford to pay, they must be able to pay.”
Click on the video below to watch the SABC Election debates on The Battle for Mangaung Metro:
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