Baloyi pledges to put the people first

2011-10-29 15:43

Newly appointed Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi says one of the priorities of his new portfolio will be to ensure that municipalities deliver “tangible services” to residents.

The recurring protests throughout the country by communities unhappy with service delivery standards are his other top priority.

The former public service and administration minister believes that to avoid protests local government leaders need to keep in touch with communities they serve.

“People need to be taken on board. If there are blockages, if there are challenges in as far as service provision is concerned, you talk to the people,” he says.

“Ward councillors are supposed to remain in constant contact with the community. If we can do that at least once a quarter, that’s exactly what the principle of Batho Pele is all about.

“It says you have to talk to the people about the services they receive, explain challenges even in areas where you’re failing.

“Not just councillors; even structures on the ground (such as) your civil society formations, the institutions of traditional leadership, the people on the ground.”

The former Giyani mayor met officials on Thursday to bring himself up to speed with challenges facing the department.

The department has been virtually rudderless since former minister Sicelo Shiceka went on sick leave in February.

Shiceka’s abuse of public funds resulted in President Jacob Zuma sacking him and appointing Baloyi instead.

But some have questioned Baloyi’s appointment, suggesting his performance at the public service and administration department was lacklustre.

But he insists that coordination among structures that deliver services at local government level will also be his key area of focus.

“Take, for example, water services legislation. You have the reality (of having) more than one player in the service delivery chain,” he says.

“It means the coordination of these players becomes key so that at no point would we have a situation where the ball falls out of the hands of players.

“If it’s in the area of the water affairs department, the area of (cooperative governance and traditional affairs), the area of municipalities – you make it a point that those issues are addressed so that you don’t have blockages in the chain.”

Baloyi says his new department’s turnaround strategy has not yet placed it where it should be.

At the Thursday meeting, he urged officials to devise a programme that would remedy weaknesses, enabling the department to prop up local government.


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