Mayor sets his priorities

2010-03-29 00:00

NEW Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr is under no illusion as to the scale of problems facing the embattled municipality, and has called on relevant stakeholders to roll up their sleeves and get dirty in order to restore some pride and respectability to the city.

With the council hit by scandal after scandal over the past year, the newly appointed executive committee has the unenviable task of regaining residents’ trust, and Tarr has admitted that it will not be easy.

“Let’s face it, the situation is not good. The people who were deployed by the ANC let the party and the people down. We want to restore the good name of the ANC,” Tarr told The Witness during an interview at his Hilton home on Saturday.

One of the areas that needs to be tackled rapidly, said Tarr, is the cleaning of rubbish on the city’s streets. He said his ultimate goal, as the political head of council, is to achieve a cleaner and more transparent administration.

Tarr (68), was placed in the hot seat by the ANC last week, after the party booted out the council’s former mayor, Zanele Hlatshwayo, deputy mayor Mervyn Dirks and other Exco members.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell resigned on Friday, after being absent from work for nearly two months while the council faced its financial crisis.

Tarr told The Witness that the change in leadership was the correct thing to do. A former chairman of the provincial standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), which is tasked with scrutinising KZN departmental finances, said that he looked at the audit report on the municipality and his conclusion was that the council’s financial position is terrible.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as the new mayor said the provincial Treasury, the auditor-general in the province and administrator Johann Mettler’s high-level team have pledged to turn around the financial mess and bring things to normality.

Asked about how he will deal with strikes by municipal employees that inconvenience residents, Tarr said that strikes are a result of bad management and lack of communication with unions. He said the new leadership will work with the unions as well as with the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business.

On frequent electricity outages, Tarr said they will be dealt with, adding that Mettler’s appointment makes provision for extra technical support to be called on when needed.

“The city needs a long-term plan on infrastructure and once you have a plan you can work on ensuring that it is achieved.”

Tarr, who described the appointment as an honour, is a staunch Sharks supporter and enjoys mountain biking.

“I also enjoy taking walks in the Drakensberg where I can just disappear for a couple of days.”

And, of course, Msunduzi’s new mayor couldn’t hide his enthusiasm about the upcoming 2010 World Cup.


Let’s face it, the situation is not good. The people who were deployed by the ANC let the party and the people down.

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