Service delivery - ‘Comrades syndrome’

2015-08-26 06:00

Mayor of Pietermaritzburg City, Chris Ndlela.

PHOTO: File Mayor of Pietermaritzburg City, Chris Ndlela.

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OPPOSITION parties were out in full force during last month’s debate of the State of the City address by Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela.

Councillor Vic Winterbach, from the main opposition party in council, the Democratic Alliance, referred to service delivery as the “Comrades syndrome” that is increasingly manifesting itself in the municipality.

“It is not difficult to identify this syndrome. In my ward, there is a stretch of road from the top of Polly Shortts to Alexandra Park upon which teams of workers descend around June every year and make all things new in a matter of days.

“This is of course, the Comrades Marathon route. Once the race is run, the workers disappear and the stretch of road is left to return to its previous state of disrepair – until next time. Nothing happens in the interim,” he said.

He said this epitomises the current municipal approach to service delivery.

“It is sporadic, it lacks consistency and continuity, it is limited in depth and scope and is unprofessional.”

DA councillor Naleni Atwaru said that Ndlela’s speech was informative and carried a essence of what the city has done to improve over the past few years, since the city was placed under administration and further commended him for the changes made in the municipality thus far.

“The infrastructure development gives us hope for a functioning city in the years to come, through economic growth and jobs development. That the city has finally acknowledged skills development and competency levels as important to the proper functioning of a municipality is laudable,” she said.

Atwaru however, said that although there has been significant progress made in the municipality there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

“I do not want to sound like an angel of doom, but let me be the first to admit, that while we have done well on the face of things, there are many problematic areas which we need to address in order for us to function effectively and efficiently with our ratepayers’ revenue, thus providing sustainable service delivery,” she said.

Minority Front councillor Radhia Singh emphasised the importance of time management and starting meetings on time, which is not the case at the moment, and further stated that the lack of punctuality means that productivity and service delivery are the only sufferers.

NFP councillor, Patrick Bhengu, accused the mayor of painting a glowing picture of the city, when in reality, all is not well.

“One thing is clear - the mayor lives in a completely different city from the one we all know. In contrast to what the mayor would have us believe, Msunduzi has a bad story to tell,” he said.

Speaking on the current energy crisis, Bhengu said that load shedding in Msunduzi has become part of almost everyday life.

“In Msunduzi, the problem is worsened by the city’s inability to handle the crisis. Load shedding happens unexpectedly as in many areas, particularly the township areas and load-shedding schedules are not communicated properly.”

Bhengu said that proper communication of correct load-shedding schedules need to take priority and the Msuduzi website updated so that people can have access to updated schedules.

He also requested that the mayor speak on the water crisis currently facing the province and asked what plans the municipality had into place to address the possibility of “water shedding”.

Dennis Ntombela of the IFP accused the mayor of not paying attention to residents of Vulindlela. Ntombela said Vulindlela faced serious problems with water and other basic needs, but this was not mentioned in Ndlela’s speech.

In contrast, ANC councillors sang Ndela’s praises during the debate and focused on the progress that has been made by the municipality.

ANC councillor Bethwell Ngcobo said the council had made great progress.

“Our city is shining and it will be more shining in the days to come.”

He praised Ndlela for making permanent appointments of management teams as there were too many people in acting positions. He further commended him for the appointment of municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, who was recently named best MM in the province.

ANC councillors banged their tables in support of ANC Women’s League provincial leader Ningi Zungu who took the opportunity to campaign starting with a Bible verse saying it should apply to everyone “since we are all Christian here”.

Zungu said the media should pass the message on to residents to vote for the ANC for a better future, and accused “certain” opposition parties of promoting racism and “white imperialism”.

Msunduzi speaker Babu Baijoo was asked to take control of the meeting and not allow campaigning, but he responded saying he did not see Zungu’s comments as campaigning and allowed freedom of speech.

DA councillor Bill Lambert asked for Zungu to apologise for claiming that everyone present was Christian, as “all religious denominations were in attendance and should be respected”.

Ndlela will respond at the next full council meeting.

In my ward there is a stretch of road from the top of Polly Shortts to Alexandra Park upon which teams of workers descend around June every year and make all things new in a matter of day

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