Msunduzi: Our comeback plan

2011-05-17 00:00

THIS is the time of the year when politicians are perceived to be criss-crossing the country making extravagant promises to get support for their parties. History has shown that in many cases this perception is correct.

In Msunduzi the ANC-led council is determined to dispel this perception. The municipal budget and the associated individual development plan (IDP) form the basis of our election campaign. Any promises or undertakings are reflected in the budget and IDP.

Simply put if something does not appear in the budget or IDP it will not happen and if it is there, it will. The IDP reflects in detail what is to happen with our capital projects and where they are to take place. Funding for IDP projects is clearly identified.

The municipality, however, has gone further than simply to make provision in the budget for its service-delivery targets. It has also provided a mechanism whereby it is possible to monitor progress. Monthly management­ accounts for each business unit will be posted on our website and progress on our IDP will also be reported at three-monthly intervals on our website.

In an effort to be even more transparent our portfolio committees will not only be open to members of the public, but processes are being put in place where members of the public can make direct inputs into portfolio committee meetings.

It is also worth reflecting on the good news in our city for a change. Space is limited, but listed here are a few good news items which, where appropriate, are included in our budget.

TurnAround Strategy

A turnaround strategy is in place and again the details are available on our website.

This strategy clearly identifies what needs to be done in areas such as financial management­, credit control, debt control, maintenance, employment practices, supply chain management and other areas. Measures have already been put in place to deal with all of these matters, which will result in an efficient well-run city.

Clean City

This has long been an area of concern. Various initiatives are currently in the pipeline that will ensure that our city is again one of which we can be proud. These are:

• A complete integrated waste-management system that makes provision for producing energy from gas at our landfill site in New England Road, recycling at the landfill site and various other centres, which will be carried out by NGOs, and the acquisition of a new fleet to replace vehicles that are currently unserviceable.

• An extended public works programme. We are currently in the process of employing some 550 people who will be allocated across all wards in the city with a task of collecting waste and cutting verges, etc. The Department for Water Affairs is also making funds available to assist in the cleaning of our streams and rivers. These are not once-off initiatives, but will be ongoing.

• Business improvement districts. Legislation for business improvement districts has currently been tabled for comment and will shortly be finalised. This is with the full support of business and once operational will make a complete revamp of our central business district possible. It is expected that in time this will extend to other areas. Business-improvement districts have resulted in remarkable improvements in other cities and we expect the same.

• P3 (picture perfect Pietermaritzburg). The city, together with the Chamber of Business and The Witness, will be launching this programme today. Under this programme various businesses will be taking responsibility for beautifying areas such as islands and verges in the city. This is receiving encouraging and widespread support from businesses and we are grateful to The Witness for its support in this regard. A number of businesses have already taken responsibility for areas such as the Edendale Road and the old cemetery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street. They will be publicly recognised at the launch of P3 today.

Vulindlela housing project

The largest community-based housing programme in South Africa is due to start in Vulindlela, which will encompass wards one to nine. This will involve upgrading some 25 000 houses at a cost of R2 billion over a five-year period. Associated with this project will be skills development programmes, block-making enterprises, window, door and truss-making enterprises and various agricultural projects. This will bring immense benefit to the city, and in particular, our citizens living in the Vulindlela area.

Station Precinct

A major revamp of the station area by the Department of Transport is currently in the planning stage. This is expected to cost in the region of R1,4 billion and will result in the whole station­ and precinct being upgraded, together with the Rapid Rail Transport System coming online.

Parking and ByLaws

A continual problem has been a lack of parking in the central business district and the non-implementation of bylaws that relate to street trading, littering, posters, and signage. New bylaws have been published for public comment in order to deal with all of the foregoing and will be promulgated within the next few months.

Future Development

In addition to the current developments taking place, such as the Edendale Mall, there are at least three other major developments in the pipeline which we expect to come online during the 2011/12 financial year. For obvious reasons it is not possible to mention them now.

Call Centre

A major source of complaints from the public is related to difficulties experienced in reporting problems. A modern, fully operational call centre, which provides for feedback, will be operational by the middle of June.

The equipment is already in place and recruitment and training of operators will start soon.

Airport

A upgrade of the airport is currently under way at a cost of R40 million. Members of the public will have already noticed the larger aircraft and improved flight schedules. This is a clear indication of increased business activity. New routes are also being planned.

Vision for the City

We have started a process to produce a 25-year vision for the development of the city. This will involve all stakeholders in the city who will be asked to make an input to ensure that this vision gets the buy-in from everybody involved. This is essential as it will provide a clear road map for how council should allocate resources in the future. Once the first draft is available an extensive process for obtaining public comment will commence.

Organogram

The secret of any successful organisation depends on the employment of competent well-motivated staff. A new organogram will shortly be finalised and advertisements have already been placed to fill senior management positions. These will be filled shortly after the election and where appropriate intensive training courses will be made available for staff members.

The municipality is determined that it will become the benchmark against which other municipalities can measure themselves in future. We intend to involve the public in our activities to create a true working partnership.

We must move away from the situation of us and them, with us being the municipality and them being the ratepayers. If we all pull together for the benefit our city we can succeed.

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