District plan to recover

2008-08-26 00:00

THE uMgungundlovu District Municipality’s recovery and turnaround strategy, outlined to the media yesterday, involves a three-pronged approach.

The municipality first analysed the situation, worked out urgent short-term goals and put into place long-term strategic plans.

Acting municipal manager Sibusiso Khuzwayo said that when he was deployed from the provincial government 82 days ago, the district was in a state of distress with under-collection of revenue, over-expenditure, inadequate operational systems, and internal controls and leadership.

The severity of the crisis prompted their short-term plans, which included restoring the IT system and boosting staff morale.

Short-term achievements so far are:

• financial stability;

• policy reviews on supply chain management, performance management policy and fleet management;

• organisational review;

• focused operational environment;

• systems to control expenditure;

• a financial recovery plan;

• infrastructure development projects — R20 million allocated for sanitation, R34 million for water, R3 million for roads and storm water drains projects;

• Reduction of spending in the mayor’s office from R12 million to R2 million;

• Management of the salary bill, including cutting non-critical posts and reducing salaries of strategic executive managers;

• installing a water billing system;

• operations and customer care centre and

• better control of stores and depot set-up.

Khuzwayo said they have formed strategic partnerships with the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, Cosatu, amakhosi, the Development Bank of SA and Cape Winelands District, which is recognised as the best run municipality in the country.

They have formed clusters with the seven local municipalities under the district, with each municipal manager chairing a cluster that is critical to delivering services.

They have improved relations with Msunduzi Municipality, with which they did not previously get along, and are now partners in the upgrade of Harry Gwala Stadium.

He prides the council on drafting a business plan for 2010 and on the upgrade of the stadium, which was adopted by the cabinet, without employing consultants.

“Turnaround is not an event, but a calculated process. We are going towards running the municipality like a business and we are serious about service delivery,” he said.

Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said the turnaround started after an assessment of the issues affecting the municipality. After the magnitude of challenges became evident, there was a need to act fast and ensure that the municipality is redirected with minimum fuss.

Since he was appointed mayor, the municipality has awarded over R100 million to municipal infrastructure grant-funded projects, which will contribute to the quality of life of citizens in the district.

thandom@witness.co.za

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