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Proactive governance comes alive in Klipfontein Print E-mail
13 March 2017

Residents of Ward 32 in Klipfontein in the City of Johannesburg’s Region E were given the platform on Saturday, March 11, to bombard elected public representatives and officials with difficult questions on any municipal-related issue affecting the community.

The Open Day, held at the Klipfontein Multipurpose Centre, gave residents the opportunity to confront office bearers in no-holds barred, face-to-face engagements.

“This council belongs to the residents. It was voted into power by communities. It’s, therefore, important that there is constant engagement between the parties at an individual level,” said Ward 32 Councillor Bongani Nkomo.

He said it should not always be the responsibility of communities to “overwhelm” council offices. “Councillors should also be seen to be going to the communities that put them into office. We should go to the residents to hear first-hand what their problems are. That’s called proactive governance,” Nkomo said.

Local residents came in large numbers to interact with officials from municipal-owned entities such as the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, City Power, Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo, Pikitup, Johannesburg Roads Agency and Johannesburg Water as well as departments such as Housing, Health and Social Development and Environmental Health.

Various activities – including music, sporting games, fun walk, jumping castle, diketo, morabaraba, card games and many other family games – had also been lined up to entertain the residents.

There were prizes up for grabs, too, for competitors in the fun walk in the form of a breakfast and massage at a top Sandton hotel. In the adult category, Thowetsi Kotela and Hazel Mabulwa won the breakfast prize, while senior citizens Edwin Morasehla and Virginia Ntake will both enjoy a full massage at a spa.

Local resident Mosebetsi Tema said it was a good thing for “the government to come to the people. I’m happy that our councillor (Nkomo) has seen it fit to humble himself and bring the whole City of Johannesburg to us. We’re now able to tell them in person about our problems with crime and drug abuse.

“We can tell them about the power cuts we experience from time to time, about izinyoka (electricity cable thieves) and about poor roads and burst water pipes. But I’m glad that some of our problems are already being attended to,” Tema said.

Region E Director Liziwe Makoro said she was happy with the turnout. “The City has taken a conscious decision to be responsive to the needs of the residents it serves. For that to be possible there needs to be a now and then engagement among the parties,” Makoro said.

She said the City had introduced innovative ways for residents to report problems. “We’ve set up call centre lines and WhatsApp chat groups for communities to use. Through chat groups residents are now able to tip off one another about criminal activities around their areas. They can quickly mobilise help and report such activities to the police,” she said.

Makoro said through call centre lines residents could report leaks, burst water pipes and power cuts. She said the system had significantly improved response time. “Water bursts and sewer leaks are now being fixed within 24 hours,” she said.

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