The FF Plus believes the Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi's, desperate election gimmick to write off all townships, informal settlements and hostels' outstanding water and power accounts will boomerang and consequently undermine the economic development of those areas.
This plan of his also shows that Lesufi is ideologically close to the EFF and has Marxist tendencies.
Lesufi's populist solution to a reasonably complex problem also points to his desperate opportunism to pull a rabbit from a hat to win the 2024 elections in Gauteng.
In the 2021 local government elections, the ANC in Gauteng obtained only 36% of the votes and polls indicate that the ANC has lost a lot of support in urban areas.
So, now Lesufi has started to shift his focus to poorer and rural areas in an attempt to canvass more voter support for the 2024 elections.
The fact of the matter is that if this debt-cancellation plan becomes a reality, the debt will merely be transferred to the Gauteng middle class, which consists mostly of black voters and that will, ironically, estrange voters from the ANC even further.
Lesufi's biggest problem is that his short-sighted plan which is apparently meant to help the poor will only impoverish them even further, because it will rob all medium- to long-term development plans of funds.
The Gauteng Legislature recently adopted the Gauteng Township Development Act in terms of which a development framework must be established to create job opportunities in townships and informal settlements.
For the Act to be effective, funds must be made available for development and job creation.
Transferring billions of rand of debt to the middle class will have a substantially detrimental impact on the tax base and consequently also on any development funds.
Although the private sector also has a role to play in terms of the Gauteng Township Development Act, it will become all the more difficult as the middle class’s tax burden grows and its buying power wanes.
One can detect concern about this in the responses to Lesufi's announcement of his plan on Twitter. Numerous people, many of which are black, have explicitly expressed their objection to the plan, and want to know why they should bear the burden of non-taxpayers.
Further questions were raised, such as why Gauteng's townships and informal settlements are the only ones to benefit, which opens the door for demands that it must happen in the rest of the country as well. That will have catastrophic consequences for Eskom and the country's economy.
The Gauteng Township Development Act's objectives will be further undermined by writing off the debt seeing as the culture of non-payment for services, which has been cultivated by the ANC since before 1994, will be fed and reinforced by it.
Under these circumstances, the essential culture of entrepreneurship, self-employment and productivity cannot be cultivated.
The ANC in Gauteng paid almost no attention to the poor living in townships and informal settlements over the past 30 years. The party focused, instead, on the racial integration of middle-class neighbourhoods and awarding unlawful tenders.
The sudden focus on townships and informal settlements is not because the ANC cares about the poor, but because it is desperate to hold on to power in Gauteng with the 2024 elections.
The FF Plus will continue to drive its "STOP LESUFI" campaign to ensure that the ANC gets less than 30% support and to, as the central party in the existing local government, form the hub around which the coalition government in Gauteng will revolve.
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