‘IFP failed to spend’

2010-08-16 00:00

THE previous Newcastle municipal council under the Inkatha Freedom Party failed the public by spending only 30% of the 2008/2009 capital budget, ANC mayor Afzal Rehman told a report-back meeting on Saturday.

He said the council spent only R20 million of the allocated R68 million for infrastructure development in Newcastle.

The ANC took over the municipality in February 2009.

Addressing residents at Osizweni sports ground, Rehman said that when he took over, the capital budget for the year that ended in June 2010 was increased to R172 million, of which R125 million was spent on tarring roads, installing water supply systems in rural areas, fixing shoddy RDP houses, building bridges and revamping a graveyard in the Draycott rural area.

“I’m still not happy with what we have done so far. When I took over as mayor I had a dream that one day all the areas around Newcastle will be made a better place to live. That is a dream that will be fulfilled come shine or rain,” said Rehman.

“Since we took over we have tarred 42 km of roads and filled 24 km of pothole-infested roads around town. This is not enough because our people need more,” he told the cheering crowd.

The municipality still has a problem with street name signs being vandalised and a plan is in place to hold information sessions to educate people about the importance of street names.

Rehman said that when that exercise is completed, a project to name the streets will continue as this will make it easier for emergency services to reach people who need help.

Speaking at the same meeting, ANC Youth League leader in Newcastle Tifo Chabelie said young people are disappointed with the lack of empowerment programmes for them.

“My opinion is that the youth feel that participating in the polls won’t make any difference to their lives.

“Here we have many unemployed graduates after years of hardship in university, technikons and colleges. The feeling is that voting won’t make any changes as they have voted before without getting any improvement in their lives.

“If we can tackle the issues of unemployment and skills development, we can have the youth back on track,” said Chabelie.

Rehman acknowledged the high rate of unemployment.

He said that late last year 25 posts for general workers were advertised and more than 20 000 applications were received.

“Surprisingly, 10% of the applicants were graduates. You can imagine a graduate wanting to be a general worker. That in itself tells how serious the issue of unemployment is in our municipality,” said Rehman.

Three projects have been initiated where young people are trained in business management and electrical studies, while a brick-making factory has been established in the area, helping to create jobs.

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