“Bring services closer to people”

2017-05-18 06:02
Siyabulela Mamkeli PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

Siyabulela Mamkeli PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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With a lack of education around how local government works, newly appointed Area Central Mayco member, Siyabulela Mamkeli, believes in working hard to provide the public with information so they can better access these services.

Since the implementation of the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP), Capetonians have seen a shift in the mayoral committee and the introduction of four area-based Mayco members who are tasked with overseeing service delivery across various City departments in a defined geographical area.

In this week’s edition of Municipal Matters, City Vision chats to Mamkeli who now manages the area known as Area Central which stretches from Athlone to Parow and covers Manenberg, Gugulethu, Bellville, Bishop Lavis, Elsies River and Goodwood among others.

Mamkeli was born and raised in East London and first came to Cape Town during the 1990s and took up his first job as a factory worker. He has been a community activist for 18 years and he has served as Ward Youth Development Forum Chairperson under the Buffalo City Metro Municipality Youth Forum.

He has also served as a representative of Youth in Agriculture and Development under the Buffalo City Farmers’ Association and later served as the organisation’s secretary.

He later joined the DA and served as chairperson of the utility services portfolio committee until 2012.

He highlights the 2012 by-election where he was elected as the councillor for ward 45 which covers Manenberg as the turning point in his career. Mamkeli says, it was this election that he realised that voters were not interested in voting along racial lines or petty politics but wanted public representatives to help improve their communities.

He was later appointed as the subcouncil 11 chairperson and in 2014 was appointed as the Mayco member for human settlements and later appointed as the Mayco member for health.

Speaking to the City Vision at his office in Goodwood, Mamkeli says as part of the ODTP one of his first objectives is to ensure that the turn-around time for complaints and service delivery requests is reduced to just three days. “Most of the staff don’t even know yet, but I believe that we need to be accessible to people and that is why I will be watching every City office that is providing a service is ensuring that matters are dealt with as soon as possible and that the public receives feedback.”

Mamkeli says Area East consists of six subcouncils and 30 wards. Among some of the biggest challenges, he says, is that the area has the highest number of rental stock units.

“This means we spend time tackling all the social issues and especially drugs at these units, so it remains a challenge. In addition there are many things affecting progress on housing developments as we now have gangsters who are demanding protection money,” he says.

At the top of his priority list is tackling economic development through transport orientated development. This, he says, focuses on the planned upgrade of the Bellville Public Transport Interchange and the Athlone CBD. He believes, local economic hubs need to be rejuvenated to attract investment and entrepreneurs to create employment and in-turn help relieve traffic congestion as more people can work closer to home.

Mamkeli says they are clamping down on erroneous property owners who have allowed their properties to dilapidate over time. With the recent formation of a problem building task team by the Bellville Subcouncil, Mamkeli says this is a pilot project that they hope to duplicate in other economic hubs such as Athlone. “We want property owners to either shape up or ship out. As we work to develop these hubs we cannot allow the areas to deteriorate.”

In addition to formal businesses, Mamkeli says there is a need to help develop hubs for informal traders and entrepreneurs.

“If you look at the Gugulethu meat market, there is so much potential but currently the aesthetics are not good. So we will be looking at creating these markets where people can trade in a dignified manner and in a healthy way. Ideally, once these hubs are established, the business owners should form trading associations and they take over the responsibility for these areas.”

Another burning issue in Area East, Mamkeli says, is the provision of services to backyard dwellers. He says while people wait for formal housing the provision of these services is essential and the roll-out will continue.

While Mamkeli will be focusing on various improvements in Area East, he says at the centre of it all is the transversal management of all departments and bringing residents closer to the City. “While I was on a course in Johannesburg, the lecturer said that when people are protesting about service delivery, the term ‘service delivery protest’ is actually incorrect. The lecturer said it should be called non-service delivery protests because people are upset that something is not being done.

In Area East the vision is to bring services closer to the people.

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