THE SPEECH OF THE EXECUTIVE MAYOR ON THE OCASSION OF THE MUNICIPALITY IDP STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION
It is with a great sense of humility and appreciation that I stand here today to join hands with you as we put together a plan that will guide the direction we will take as a Municipality in the next five years. It is imperative that we all join hands and focus on some of the critical issues that have been raised by members of the community without any attempt to take a defensive stance.
There are a number of key references that will inform the input I am about to make today, and key among them are the following:
- The ANC 2016 Local Government elections manifesto
- The speech as presented at the Mayor's Inauguration
- Key challenges noted during the Council meets the people programme
- The recent speech of the Mayor on the Budget adjustment.
Each of the above have a specific and critical role in shaping the way we approach this all important session. There are also a number of important matters we need to look at if we are to achieve any fundamental change in the institution over the next five years.
Let me state it from the outset that all our efforts will be in vain if we put the plans together and not have the necessary vehicle in place to drive its successful implementation. Taking the above into consideration it is important that we look at the public perception about the general attitudes displayed by employees when providing services to them. Maybe one should first look at the reports submitted by Councillors of the Municipality about the treatment they get from staff in the Municipality when presenting their cases.
We need to seriously introspect our public relations and work on improving our frontline service to everyone that enters the Municipality buildings looking for a service. We need a type of Municipal employee that:
- Understands the challenges faced by our communities,
- Subscribe to the ethos of Batho Pele,
- Put people's needs ahead of their individual interests,
- Demonstrate ability to show empathy to the needs and circumstances of the community.
We are caring institution that is driven by a humane and developmental approach in the performance of our daily duties. This needs to be reflected in the manners in which apply ourselves to our work.
As we enter this new developmental era in the municipality let us ensure that there is also a new culture of doing things.
This IDP affords us an opportunity to reflect on the growth of the city over the past five years, assess the direction we have taken and determine the route we need to follow in the future. The ANC manifesto for the 2016 local government elections has identified the following strategic areas on which we need to respond:
- Improved quality of service to our communities,
- Increase the number of households that have direct access to water,
- Improve on the provision of sanitation and restoring the dignity of our people,
- Ensure access to electricity and fully serviced land for our communities.
The call is therefore being made that we assess our capacity in all these areas and initiate measures to address both the backlog and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
Our ability to attract investment in the city is highly dependent on our ability to provide the necessary environment both in terms of physical infrastructure and managing our internal systems in processing such applications.
The MFMA directs that the municipality may dispose of land to any party or individual taking into consideration the economic or social value is will have in the community. This provision clearly puts certain demands on us and requires a review of our land disposal systems. It must a requirement that every land application be accompanied with a plan of the intended use and the timelines within which such development may take place. This will give us an opportunity of entering into lease arrangements with the intention to purchase if the time frames are complied with. This practise will protect the municipality from selling land to parties or individuals whose intention is to block growth and development.
I call on the MM to establish a special team that will look at "High impact" investment applications, so that we avoid the tedious red tape and processes that discourage investors from considering our city as a viable destination. Section 14.4 of the MFMA empowers Council to delegate the function of land disposal to the MM, and it is in that context that I encourage a special team be established and made up of all sections relevant to the processing of applications.
In order to ensure that the voice of Council is heard I further suggest that such a committee include the chairpersons of both LED and Spelum. Such applications can be fast tracked through meetings on a regular basis and submitted to Council at the earliest possible opportunity.
We need to put a plan in place to deal with the challenges of human settlement in the municipality, to this end it is important that the Housing section in conjunction with Town planning must put together a comprehensive strategy aimed at addressing the challenge. We need to identify available land for development and not respond to these on a piecemeal basis. In order for us to achieve this we need have a proper database on the number of informal settlements in the city, number of people on the waiting list of housing, these need to be collated into one municipality database that will inform our planning.
There is also the need for us to strengthen our area that deals with the issuing of Title deeds to qualifying families. It is unfortunate that we allow records of families to be kept in store for years while beneficiaries are stranded and helpless. It is time we give our people their dignity and clean up the image of the municipality in the eyes of the public.
We need to put measures in place to continuously ensure that we measure our performance and compliance with set targets. There needs to be more accountability across all levels of the leadership spectrum and systems put in place to ensure continuous flow of information in the institution. We therefore need to set up a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit linked to my office that will put measures in place for the office to play its oversight role.
In conclusion we need an aggressive LED strategy or drive that will ensure that we put the Municipality on the map and influence investor confidence in the municipality. We need to have a product that is able to sell the city at various platforms, and have ambassadorial roles attached to local individuals that are nationally or internationally celebrated. We need to leverage every platform at our disposal for the benefit of the city and use all marketing tools at our disposal.
Let us all join hands in building a better city for all, let us create opportunities for our communities to develop and grow.