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Communication is a cornerstone of the mayor’s approach to his Office, and he promises to engage with the people of Johannesburg.
EXECUTIVE Mayor Parks Tau introduced his political team to the media this week, and said his administration was going to be characterised by better communication with the people of Joburg.


Executive mayor Parks Tau (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayor Parks Tau meets editors (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)“We are trying to develop ways to improve communication – it is important to get feedback and engage with the people of Johannesburg.”

He said his team would be spending a significant amount of time improving their communication. “We want to have a conversation with the people of Joburg.”

He added: “The people elected us to do a job, and they will hold us accountable.” This meant making sure that everyone gave a productive eight-hour working day.

The mayor, who appointed his mayoral committee barely three weeks ago, held a four-day lekgotla last week with his mayoral committee, senior City managers, and all chairpersons and chief executives of municipal-owned entities, thrashing out the way forward under his leadership.

He admitted to feeling unaccustomed to his new role as mayor. “I’m uncomfortable in the public light. It is an occupational hazard,” he said, laughing.

Tau outlined a number of priorities: there was a need to address service delivery deficiencies and improve performance, particularly regarding roads, billing and the call centre, but also the small things, like the quality of swimming pools.

“It’s a non-negotiable,” he emphasised.

The committee discussed the Growth and Development Strategy at the lekgotla, which has been revised. A stakeholder summit will be held in the near future, and a draft of the new strategy will be published by September.

Tau touched on the demand and supply of water to residents, including infrastructure maintenance, but also looked at alternatives, like rain water harvesting. He was concerned about the quality of ground water and river water.

Food security was another concern. “We need to urgently address the issue of food security – there are a very high number of people who don’t have access to food.” He suggested that among the trees the City was planting, some should be fruit-bearing.

“Those who are voiceless – we need to create platforms for them to be heard.”

Tau foresees an intensive eight-week consultation coming up. “We can’t talk on our own. We don’t want obfuscation; we need to know what the real issues are.”

When asked about the suspension of emergency management services head Audrey Gule for fraud and corruption, Tau said the performance of staff “should be a non-negotiable”. He stressed that everyone involved would be given a full hearing before a decision was taken.

Discussions had taken place with the unions. “It is important to understand that we are all public servants, and all employees must conduct themselves as servants of the public.”

He conceded that “sometimes we don’t follow process – we need to support our progressive labour dispensation”.

In addition, Tau said the City was committed to a youth development programme. “We’re a very youthful city. We need to focus attention on the youth.” This meant talking to young people about issues, including establishing ward forums, and encouraging the youth to take responsibility for themselves.

He welcomed interaction with the media. “We need to form a partnership with the media. Some of them will be critical of us; we’ll try not to be critical of the media.”

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