The plan of the Mayor of the Mbombela Local Municipality (Mbombela/Nelspruit, Barberton, Hazyview, Kaapschehoop, Skukuza, White River), Ms Sibongile Makushe, to declare several illegal settlements legal is nothing but an election gimmick.
Makushe's populist solution for a complex problem reeks of opportunism to buy votes for the ANC in the 2024 general elections.
It appears that she has shifted her focus to poorer and rural areas in a bid to canvas votes for the elections.
The FF Plus is opposed to the decision to declare illegal informal settlements and townships legal. It could lead to more illegal land grabs.
Certain informal settlements, like Msholozi and Mataffin, originated through illegal land grabs.
The Municipality is, however, currently planning to spend R47 million over the next three years on power infrastructure in Msholozi.
The Mayor claims that the Municipality will be able to collect rates and taxes from these communities for the services that the Municipality will provide to them.
But the reality is that these kinds of settlements are infamous for not loyally paying for services.
Taxpayers must now shell out millions of rand for infrastructure in these settlements, from where the money will never be recovered.
Outstanding municipal debt will simply be transferred to the Mbombela middle class, which consists mainly of black voters. Ironically, this step is going to estrange voters from the ANC.
Transferring millions of rand in debt to the middle class will have a substantially detrimental impact on the tax base and, consequently, also on any development funds.
The Mayor must rather focus on repairing the existing infrastructure, which is decaying due to a lack of maintenance.
This once again shows to what great lengths the ANC will go to retain control over Mbombela.
Residents deserve better than the ANC.