The executive mayor and other officials took the opportunity to interact with residents and listen to their concerns at the annual stakeholder summit in Midrand.
JOBURG'S Executive Mayor Amos Masondo, and other officials had the opportunity to engage with residents at the annual stakeholder summit at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, north of the city, on 26 March.
Chief Whip of Council Prema NaidooChief Whip of Council Prema Naidoo addresses residentsIt was the fifth and final summit of the current political term, and took place ahead of the local government elections on 18 May.
“In the past four years we have seen the summit grow in size and stature, and we are sure to see it grow in the years to come as it is the most important calendar event to promote public participation in the City’s planning processes,” said the Speaker of Council, Nkele Ntingane, in her opening address.
It is no coincidence that the summit is held in the same month as International Women’s Day on 8 March and national Human Rights Day on 21 March, she said.
“In the South African context, women’s issues are clearly human rights issues. It is therefore important that in the future the City ensures the participation of women in the summit so that it contributes to the improvement of conditions women face all the time,” added Ntingane.
In addition to focusing on the need to correct gender issues, Ntingane said Joburg management was also constantly working to improve and enhance public participation processes. They have done so by introducing several citizenship programmes, including civic education, a student council and community-based planning.
The civic education policy is currently in the pilot stage and involves training ward committees on the role of ward councillors and the committees, the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) cycle and on the workings of the city council.
The student council engages with young people on relevant matters and encourages the development of informed and active citizens; this initiative has the active participation of 62 schools in Joburg.
Community-based planning is ongoing and has been incorporated into the IDP.
Masondo also used the platform as an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and to make known the future programmes and changes the City wishes to implement.
Scores of people attend the Stakeholder SummitScores of people attend the Stakeholder Summit“This is not an exercise of mere compliance; we do so as a matter of principle for we know that the masses of our people are creators of their own history,” he said.
“The process of public participation also allows us to listen directly to residents and become aware of the needs of our communities.”
He highlighted some of Joburg’s key achievements, which included the 2010 World Cup; ongoing provision of basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity; housing delivery; greening of the city; safety and security; and Rea Vaya, the bus rapid transit system.
More people than ever before now have access to basic services, Masondo said. For example, between 2006 and 2010, over 29 000 households in informal settlements gained access to water in the form of communal standpipes, and over 30 000 houses were given access to basic sanitation.
“This has increased the City’s percentage coverage to 98 percent for basic water and 91 percent for basic sanitation.”
Electricity is also a service more people are enjoying, with over 34 000 electricity connections provided to households and the roll-out of 25 000 public lights in targeted areas between 2006 and 2010.
Pikitup is dedicated to waste removal and management, and collects a total of 1.6-million tons of waste across the city annually, ensuring that Joburg is a cleaner and healthier place for all residents.
Housing delivery has long been a concern for the city’s management. “The housing provision, judged against earlier interventions, is of a better quality now, providing more options and located closer to work,” said Masondo. Examples include Pennyville, Cosmo City and the mixed housing development in Lufhereng. “This has gone a long way to change the landscape of Joburg.”
Not only do residents have access to housing and basic services, they can also benefit from a “greener” city. More than 200 000 trees have been planted in the last decade; around 770 houses in Cosmo City are climate proofed through the installation of solar heaters and ceiling insulation; solar-powered traffic signals have been installed; and environment-friendly buses running on ethanol have also been introduced.
“The objective of greening was, in part, a step towards addressing the environmental and greening imbalances in the city, which has been achieved with resounding success.”
Safety and security, always a concern in a city of Joburg’s size, has also been brought firmly under control. The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department embarked on Operation Nomakanjani, which saw increased police visibility, traffic management, by-law enforcement and crime prevention.
Emergency management services can boast of widespread successes, ranging from enhanced response times to assisting with disaster relief efforts in Pakistan in August 2010 and dealing with the flash floods in Johannesburg throughout December last year.
Two other notable achievements have been the Rea Vaya system and the inner city regeneration and urban renewal programme. Rea Vaya is about the “use of alternative energy, connecting communities across the city and helping to integrate the transport system”.
Inner city regeneration has seen the central business district come alive again, with developments such as Gandhi Square, Constitution Hill and Mandela Bridge making it a place to play as well as live and work.
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The City cannot just dwell on past achievements, though. It is necessary to continue providing services to its population, and the City intends to do just that.
This where the Expanded Social Package (ESP) comes in. “It has become an ambitious programme for integrating and delivering social services to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens,” Masondo explained.
“This programme aims to achieve a five percent improvement on the basic poverty measures over the next five years. We will administer at least one form of social service, accessed through the City, to a minimum of 500 000 people per year by 2016.”
It mainly aims to focus on the elderly, people with disabilities and child-headed households.
Some of the necessary expenses for this programme will come out of the 2011/2010 operating budget, which was tabled by the City on 24 March for public consultation and comment.
The summit therefore served as an opportunity to engage in this public consultation, which took place after Masondo’s address. Mayoral committee members in charge of the various portfolios were allocated spaces in different halls, where they consulted with interested parties.
The sectoral commissions were: community development headed by Bafana Sithole; development planning and urban management headed by Roslynn Greeff; economic development chaired by Oupa Monareng; environmental management and corporate and shared services headed by Matshidiso Mfikoe; finance by Parks Tau; health by Bengeza Mthombeni; housing by Ruby Mathang; infrastructure and services by Christine Walters; safety by Elgina Ndhlovu and transport by Rehana Moosajee.
Joburg’s citizens had the chance to raise queries or concerns, and to interact with the City’s officials who have been serving them for the past 10 years. Masondo hopes that this tradition of participation will continue with the incoming political administration.
“We should challenge and support those who will become councillors after the elections to lift the bar and set even higher standards as we strive to build a better quality of life and better communities,” he said.
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