As a democratic society, the City of Johannesburg must ensure that in all that it does to improve the lives and livelihood of its citizens and as local government it does not leave its communities behind but listens and endeavours to service their needs.
This is how the Speaker of Council, Councillor Nonceba Molwele, kicked off proceedings during a virtual public meeting on rates with stakeholders and residents last week.
The City has been holding virtual public meetings public participation from 9 February until 5 March 2021 to get residents’ views on the rates policy. So far the response of attendance digitally is commendable. Seventeen sessions are still to take place in all the regions where some wards were left for later.
“As we plan for the future of our cities, we must be inclusive, and we must ensure that citizens are part of our planning. It must be said that public participation is also a very significant aspect in ensuring comprehensive service delivery. If communities do not participate, it means as local government, we would have failed at the first step of ensuring service delivery. There is nothing that we can do for communities without communities,” Cllr Molwele said.
“There is a lot of legislation around the importance of public participation. I saw it fit and important to talk about public participation during community-based participation (CBP) sessions so that communities understand exactly what it entails, its importance and the entire process thereof. The success of participatory democracy lies in the meaningful participation of the citizenry / citizen" she reiterated,” the Speakers said.
She was joined by two senior officials in the City of Joburg to unpack this topic. One of them was Khanyisile Cele, who is the Group Head for Group Strategy, Policy Coordination and Relations that reviews public participation policy from time to time to ensure it becomes meaningful and assists the City to respond to the issues coming from the ground and consolidating them.
Busisiwe Ngwenya, the Director for Ward Governance and Community Participation in the Legislature of the City of Joburg, explained these processes, starting from a plan presented to Council for approval then to CBPs engagements leading to Integrated Development Plans (IDP) development and lastly to budget cycle.
The deputy chair of chairs also talked about the role of the councillor in the community on service delivery issues, being a middleman between Council and the community. This misunderstanding of roles often cause tensions and create expectations between the two mentioned parties.
Residents and stakeholders are urged to join the public meetings by going into the city’s website, www.joburg.org.za and click to NOTICES, then select CBP meeting. You will then select the region and cluster you want to join.
Click on the barcode icon that will take you to join the MS Teams Session. There you will also find a link to make online comments and a short video clip on the CBP process.
People can make their inputs via:
1. Attending the Regional virtual meetings as per the above.
2. Submissions can also be emailed to email@example.com
3. Online submissions can be made online by clicking on the link : https://share.hsforms.com/1-W81Bz_gS6yf20an7wB-uQ469tl
4. Written comments can be submitted into boxes provided at the Regional Offices.