Little takes big task in her stride

2017-05-11 06:00
“Mini Mayor” Councillor Suzette Little PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

“Mini Mayor” Councillor Suzette Little PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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New Area North Mayco member Councillor Suzette Little, who started her career as a City of Cape Town councillor just under seven years ago, said with her recent appointment, she believes no task is too big or too small.

From her early days as a ward councillor for Athlone, Little says she has learnt many valuable lessons over the years, but every day represents a new challenge.

Little has been serving as one of a number of councillors dubbed a “Mini Mayor” since January.

She was appointed following the implementation of the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP).

Capetonians have seen a shift in the mayoral committee with 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 councillor Little who now manages Area North, which comprises six subcouncils and 30 wards.

She was born and raised in Athlone, and between 2008 and 2010 she worked in administration for the City.

Following years of community work, Little threw her hat into the ring during a by-election in ward 49 in 2010. After winning amid much dissatisfaction over the previous councillor, Little says she first learnt to celebrate the community spirit in Athlone.

“The residents were very proactive and they made it known that if I, as the councillor, was not working for the community, they would use their vote. So they really held me accountable and they will always have a special place in my heart.”

Little was later appointed as the local subcouncil chairperson, and one year later was appointed as the Mayco member for social development and early childhood development.

In January, along with three of her colleagues, Little was appointed as a “mini-mayor” and now oversees service delivery in a range of communities, stretching from Hout Bay to Brackenfell and includes the entire West Coast and Langa.

Area North is the largest of the four areas and the only one managed by a woman.

Sitting in the meeting room of her office at the Cape Town Stadium, Little is surrounded by oversized maps marked with small stickers, which, she says, is how she plans her community meetings.

“I have been fortunate to be able to go out and work with people to understand what they need. It is arrogance to come into a community and tell residents what they need when they have been living there all the time.”

Little says while she is still collating information on what the main priorities should be.

At the top of the list is tackling long-standing complaints or concerns that have not yet been resolved.

This includes the handing over of title deeds to beneficiaries. She says one of the main issues is planning and densification and helping to get people to live closer to their places of work.

Illegal dumping and the conditions of roads are also major concerns.

Little has already embarked on community outreaches in various areas and says more meetings with residents are planned. In the coming weeks and months, she will be visiting areas including Schoteskloof, Summer Greens and Fisantekraal.

She says while the needs of each of the communities vary, she has been impressed by the willingness of local leaders and community organisations to work together to improve Cape Town. “I really am privileged that in Area North I have met with some amazing folk who are as passionate as I am about development. They have come out and offered their help and I am most certainly going to make use of them. So we will have a number of meetings aimed at looking at how we can uplift the social fibre of Area North through interventions like improving sports facilities and getting the communities to work together.”

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