The indigent of Nelson Mandela Bay better off under a DA coalition government

Issued by Cllr Retief Odendaal – DA NMB Caucus Leader
29 Jun 2023 in Press Statements

Thousands of additional indigent households in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) will now be receiving free basic services as from 1 July 2023. This is the result of progressive changes proposed by the previous DA coalition government to the Assistance to the Poor (ATTP) programme – the metro’s indigent policy.

All properties with a value of R130 000 and less will now automatically qualify for free basic services.

Under a DA coalition government, the municipality managed to deliver free basic services to almost 110 000 households in the 2018/19 financial year.

Due to bureaucratic processes and the administrative inefficiencies of an ANC coalition government that number dwindled to a mere 42 000 households by the 2021/22 financial year.

The objective of our developmental state is universal access to quality basic services for all, but in Nelson Mandela Bay the poor actually became poorer over the last couple of years. Whilst the dysfunctional NMB Council was often embroiled in petty political squabbles, thousands of poor households could not access basic municipal services and got stuck with massive, unaffordable municipal bills.

Between the 2018/19 and 2021/22 financial years it is estimated that nearly 60 000 poor households started tampering with their electricity meters in a bid to access electricity.

All free basic services delivered by municipalities in terms of an indigent policy is offset against the equitable share that local governments receive from national government. There is no excuse for the failure of local governments to roll out free basic services to indigent households.

South Africa has seen an unfolding cost of living crisis over the last two years that has increasingly affected the living standards of poor and middle-class households. Government should put measures in place to support South Africans during this crisis, not make it more difficult for households to make ends meet.