Talking about the City

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A Social Accountability Knowledge Distribution event was held at Noluthando Hall recently. Service delivery, water and sanitation, housing, lighting, roads and dumping sites were among the concerns raised.

Activist and Grahamstown resident Nosigqibo Soxujwa said while these problems existed before democracy, things were getting worse. The first speaker at the event, she said the cause of the probolems was demarcation.

“In town, they don’t face the same problems as us. I think Joza has the worst water crisis because when you open a tap, either the water is not clean or there is no water at all,” she said.

She said people get water in buckets, but when you look at the bottom of these buckets, there is sand. “The water we drink is dirty,” said Soxujwa.

The activist touched on the issue of housing, saying that 18-year-olds are receiving houses, questioning when they registered. 

She said some RDP houses already had cracks and were very small.

“We are black people that perform traditional rituals, therefore the houses we get are not big enough to do so. We are suffocated because we have big families,” she said.

Soxujwa then spoke about potholes that damage cars and not street lighting at night, which makes crime worse.

She said those who had retired could be asked to help solve the current crisis in Makana. “We need qualified people to do the job and stop cadre deployment,” she said.

She also said the Mayor should have an open-door policy.

Of dumping sites, Soxujwa said the reason people throw their litter on the street is that they do not have black bags. She suggested that the containers previously used to dump litter should be reinstated.

Lungile Penxe, a local government researcher from the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) said that residents and municipal officials are part of the problem and solution to these problems.

He said that there should be functional partnerships between residents and municipal officials to resolve these challenges, which include insufficient finances to deliver quality basic services, insufficient finances to pay creditors on time, vacancies in senior management positions, lack of proactive planning, lack of annual performance monitoring of all municipal employees and poor relationships between the municipality and its residents.

Penxe said Makana Municipality was not generating enough revenue from residents, mainly because they were not yet registered as indigent and so the municipality wasn’t being allocated state funding on their behalf.

“As residents of Makana you must know that when you don’t pay your rates, the municipality is then in debt,” he said.

Penxe said the municipality was unable to pay all their creditors on time, leading to higher expenditure than income.

So far, the vacancies in senior management positions are of the Municipal Manager and Director of Community Services, which will be vacant as from 1 November 2017. The Director of Cooperate Services position was recently filled.

“The lack of forward planning affects the filling of vacancies within the expected times lines and this can affect service delivery progress,” he said.

He also added that there is a lack of annual performance monitoring of all municipal employees and that managers must take action for staff who are not performing according to the expected standard due to laziness or drinking at work.

He then said that corrective action must be taken on staff who misuse municipal resources and that the residents have a responsibility to report this.

“When you don’t report it means that you are part of the problem,” said Penxe.

He advised residents to be involved in what happens in their community, attend municipal-organised meetings such as council meetings and hold the municipality accountable to improve governance.

Speaking to Grocott’s Mail during the event, Ward 2 Councillor Ramie Xonxa said the main purpose was to inform people.

“Once people are misinformed they take things the wrong way. I believe that knowledge is power,” he said.

He also explained the importance of paying rates saying the municipality does not have money.

With regards to the issue of dump sites around Joza, Xonxa said that he’d had a meeting with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and the Community Work Programme (CWP) to deploy two people on these dumping sites for the ‘War on Waste’ campaign.

“We can’t run away from the issues facing our municipality and this workshop raises awareness,” he said.

Xonxa said that communities need to participate in the IDP process because it will be linked to the budget.

Another organisation at the event was the Rotary Club of Grahamstown Sunset.

Showcasing what they do, Este Coetzee said that they work with different schools in Grahamstown to pull out alien invader trees on the commonage for which they get sponsorships.

“We use money from sponsorships to do community projects like painting pre-schools and give out Christmas gifts to underprivileged people,” she said.

Coetzee said that since 2012 they had removed over 50 000 trees.

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