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City rewiring itself for the digital age – Mayor Tau


The City of Johannesburg was fully behind the “back-to-basics” approach that the national government had adopted for municipalities, Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau said during his State of the City Address at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein on Wednesday.

At the summit where the approach was adopted, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan had told municipalities that they must ensure that robots worked, potholes were filled, water was delivered, refuse was collected, electricity was supplied and waste management took place “in the right kind of way”.

In his speech, Mayor Tau said: “We are pleased to report that we have pushed basic service delivery to higher standards. We have, over the course of this term, delivered 12 500 housing units for the poor.”

He said other achievements the City made in the past year alone included:

Building 1 000 social housing units and rental places;
Resurfacing 320km of roads;
Upgrading 44km of gravel roads;
Facilitating R1 billion worth of investment and business transactions; and
Reducing the mortality rate in fire and pedestrian accidents by 5% through the rendering of quality emergency management services.
“We have listened carefully to residents about their service expectations and captured this as council-approved standards … To ensure that these standards are implemented, we have established a daily nerve centre that connects all frontline departments and manages rapid responses to areas of service breakdown,” Mayor Tau said.

More than 800 people – including struggle veteran Sophie de Bruyn and celebrated musicians Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Condry Ziqubu – attended the event.

Going forward, Mayor Tau said the City was rewiring itself for the digital age to promote access for all as it harnessed the promise of the 21st century. It was also, he said, rising along the Corridors of Freedom and had triumphed over complexity to build strong institutions.

He said the City had embraced both the “blue and green economies” to harness growth, unlock economic opportunities for residents – especially the youth – and propel Johannesburg into a truly world-class African city.

“We’re striving towards a city in which today is clearly better than yesterday, a city which finds new ways everyday to work with its people to ensure tomorrow will be better than today,” he said.

Just weeks before Youth Month, the Mayor unveiled the Vulindlel’ eJozi programme that “aims to break down barriers to opportunities for 200 000 youth by 2016.

“The programme will enable [the youth] to enter work, education and training, as well as improve their economic participation potential step by step,” Mayor Tau said.

Vulindlel’ eJozi, which in its first year will be rolled out in partnership with the Harambee Youth Accelerator, is aimed at assisting one million young people who are not working, studying or training. Mayor Tau also announced that over the next few months, 3 000 young people, grouped in micro companies, would provide digital literacy training to residents of Johannesburg as part of the free public Wi-Fi hotspot rollout.

Through the city’s libraries, residents would have access to online university education through the Massive Open Online Varsity (MOOV), which has started as a pilot project with 40 youths.

Speaking a day after Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy was robbed in a barber shop in Melrose Arch, Mayor Tau promised that criminal syndicates would be squeezed out of the city through beefed-up crime-prevention mechanisms.

He said closed circuit television cameras had been upgraded using intelligent predictive software that could detect patterns of behaviour that aroused suspicion. The CCTV cameras also linked criminals to specific crime sites. The Mayor said the City had also entered into a partnership with Discovery Health to launch the Jozi-Vitality Schools Programme to encourage learners to eat healthy, become active and exercise more.

This also ties in perfectly with the Go-Jozi Healthy Lifestyle Programme and the Healthy Food Pledge signed recently by major restaurants and fast food franchises. The Mayor wished all the mothers in the city, including his mother, Ellen Tau, who was among the invited guests, and his wife, Pilisiwe Twala-Tau, a Happy Mother’s Day.
“May Sunday be a day worth the celebration we all owe to our mothers.”