Firstly let me express my congratulations to Danny Jordaan and his deputy Bicks Ndoni. Your appointment will undoubtedly be observed by some with caution. I am sure there are many who will not agree with you. However, the task ahead is a mammoth one.
I speak the blessing of God upon your lives. The Metro is in turmoil. The Metro has had protests on service delivery amongst the previously disadvantaged communities regularly and this continues. The absence of our civil servants are evident and the presence of police brutality is becoming more and more evident.
My encouragement to you, Honourable Executive Mayor is simply: “BE THE MAYOR OF THE CITY! REFUSE TO BE A PARTY POLITICAL MAYOR. ”
The key areas of difficulty you will face is the administration of the Metro to be free of party politics and political interference. Producing quick results in a short space of time will be key to your appointment. Here are some of the areas as a citizen and community leader for the last thirty years I have experienced, and for what my penny is worth, I tabulate the following as areas of importance and I do accept not all will agree with me.
1. Administration : Clean up the administration of corruption, wasteful expenditure, incompetent staff,political appointments that get replaced after a few months e.g. Municipal Managers being paid large sums of monies for non procedural suspensions and dismissals. Create a strong accountable structure where performance standards monitored and evaluated.
2. Education: though this sector of our society is far removed from the Mayor’s office and its jurisdiction is found in the Provincial Sphere of government, as the Mayor be directly involved with the stabilising of Education in your Metro. The absence of local government in these matters are evident. The number of schools that have as yet not attained their full post quota leaving classrooms without teachers, SGB’s (School governing Bodies) being ignored by local authorities, temporary appointments, overcrowded classrooms, learners dropping out of Grades 8-10; no sufficient FET’s (Further Education and Training) to train students in a skill,under qualified teachers, non payment of non teaching staff by the Department of Education, no adequate sporting facilities at schools, the list goes on and on. In my time, born in this city I have not seen one Mayor March with us or expressing solidarity to the community for a better educational environment for our communities. This all takes us back to producing cheap labour in our Metro. This contributes to once again the marginalising of the masses from sharing in the economy of the Metro.
3. Service Delivery: this has become the “buzz word” in the Metro. The infrastructure of our Metro is being deroded day by day. There are no bad schools, there are bad neighbourhoods. We need to once again enforce councillors to call community gatherings of all stakeholders. Readdress the validity of the Integrated Development Plan per ward. This will assist in treasury having a clear understanding of the budgets that will speak to the needs in each ward. Many pride themselves in the quality of service they render but it is even just as important that the results of the service be evaluated. We really do not pay for service we pay for results. Missionvale as an example has RDP houses yet 2000 people daily have to get their water supply from a communal tap. My encouragement to the new Administration is to focus on the primary needs of the people.
4. Health: Similarly to education we are seeing the continuous digression of health standards in our Metro. Under staffing, overpopulating our public hospitals with patients whilst there are not enough doctors on duty. Clinics in our areas slowly but surely fading in its quality and medical supplies. Then again as we have heard over the years: “It is outside of our jurisdiction you must approach Bhisho on this matter.” The appalling conditions at our hospitals have continued to remain and needs to be challenged by our local administration. Honourable Mayor this is our Metro and you are the head of it. We will support you.
5. Crime: The aforegoing areas as mentioned, all contribute to some extent to the rising of crime in our Metro. The high unemployment rate, lack of infrastructure in our neighbourhoods, the lack of strong judicial laws that enforce discipline will eventually turn this Metro into a military state. This was evident in the Kirkwood, Missionvale and country wide uprisings where we have seen police brutality and not one Official to determine the post trauma of the community. The killings in the Northern Areas continue,the burglary, the theft, rape and the low success rate of convictions continue. The Army sent in to address illegal immigrants whilst the absence of the Army in our neighbourhood where we are burying our children on a weekly basis is worrisome. We as churches are bound to have hearings to address the trauma of families post 1994. This pain has not been caused by an Apartheid system, it is being caused by the pain of non delivery and violence amongst ourselves.
6. Business: To enhance business in our Metro, it will be important to address the red tape that hampers quick decisions. The electric tariffs for large energy users should be monitored regularly. The price we as citizens pay is also in need of evaluating. The Addo road which is in a bad state affecting the citrus industry negatively with R60 million a year losses, is in need to be addressed speedily. In my discussion with one of the key stakeholders in the Kirkwood area, the citrus industry is a 4 billion rand industry. It supplies jobs for approximately 40,000 seasonal workers. These are areas that need speedy addressing as it is on the waiting list for a long time.
The Nooitgedacht Pipeline needs to be completed and funding of the water infra structure as this will accelerate stability of our water supply and the removal of the bucket system still prevalent in our communities.
The IPTS and the infra structure of the Metro are also areas that seem to need attention.
All of the things mentioned can be depressing,but rather they are to be seen as opportunities in a turn around strategy for the Metro.
Honourable Mayor and Deputy Mayor let us make our Metro attractive to investors. Your job is more than delivery it is to restore the confidence of the people in our political as well as administrative functions.
To expect one man to do this is unrealistic. We all have a part to play. We will do our part. To the community let us move away from thinking coloured, black, Indian. It all reveals that the identity of yesterday is still firmly entrenched in us. We welcome our South African mayor and deputy mayor who will be focused as Mayoral heads on the Metro and not party politics.
I wish you well in a daunting task.
JESUS IS THE CHRIST!