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Mayor issues stern warning

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“The entire service delivery programme will be monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis.”

THE EXECUTIVE mayor of the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Patrick Mabilo, has warned councillors and senior executive directors at the municipality to “do your work or face the consequences”.

The ultimatum, which was given during an urgent mayoral committee meeting, attended by members of the mayoral committee, the acting municipal manager and senior executive directors, yesterday, came with an apology to the public for the service delivery challenges exposed during the recent visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to a statement issued after yesterday’s mayoral committee meeting, which is traditionally closed to the public and media, the mayor “expressed his shock, disappointment and dissatisfaction regarding the poor service delivery in communities”.

“It is totally unacceptable and heads will have to roll if there is no improvement,” he stated.

The meeting also apparently reflected on the broader challenges facing the municipality, like the cash flow challenges, overtime, poor work ethic, institutions owing the municipality and a turnaround strategy to improve on the service delivery challenges.

“The entire service delivery programme will be monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis.”

The mayor also outlined a dashboard approach to service delivery performance where senior managers in each section will be expected to give an account on how they will improve the situation on a continuous basis.

According to the statement, the focus will be on the “core deliverables”.

“It was agreed that attention must be paid to key tasks as public representatives and employees of the municipality. We want to see a radical improvement.”

In the statement, Mabilo also referred to the visit by Ramaphosa and other members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) over the past week in Kimberley, which, he added, exposed challenges faced by communities, such as sewage, sanitation, refuse collection, potholes and poor service delivery.

“We are totally embarrassed and we must apologise to the public.

“The message is simple and clear, employees don’t do what they are supposed to do. The status quo cannot remain. I am committed to fast-tracking service delivery issues. We will not tolerate this situation.”

Mabilo warned further that “the don’t care attitude by employees is over”.

“I will act harshly, I will take action, and it is my head which is on the block,” he said

“Employees and councillors must take their responsibilities seriously. Councillors must play their oversight role in relation to service delivery, they must be proactive, report issues of service delivery from their respective wards.”

Mabilo added that he had identified a number of weaknesses in the system, including the fact that ward committees, ward councillors and PR councillors worked in silos and not in an integrated manner.

“Accountable leadership is needed where all must play their part, the call centre service must be improved and the response time for complaints must be addressed.”

Mabilo stated further that all fundamental service delivery challenges such as potholes, sewage spillages, street lights that were not working, and uncollected refuse, would be prioritised.

“A turnaround strategy has been outlined. A ward cleaning programme will be implemented with immediate effect. “

He stated that all councillors and officials would have to be physically involved in addressing the service delivery problems raised by the community.

“All are expected to move away from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices and must be physically present in communities attending to their problems. Problems must be fixed within clear time frames.”

He added that as the executive mayor, he expected all councillors and officials to serve the people with distinction.

“Where this does not happen, appropriate action will be taken without further delay. Local government is the sphere of government closest to where people live and work. It is vital that the municipal employees focus on their core functions without any exception.

“Finally we have a plan to fix the problems and we will fix them. As the executive mayor I will monitor the implementations.”

Mabilo’s statement comes in the wake of a high court decision earlier this week that the Makana (which includes Makhanda, formerly Grahamstown) Municipality be dissolved and placed under administration for violating its constitutional mandate by failing to provide basic services to the community,

The application was brought by the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) and other civil society organisations against the municipality, which was the first respondent, and several others in February 2019.

Judge Igna Stretch stated that the municipality’s conduct had been “inconsistent with the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa”, breaching section 152 (1) and section 153 (a) by “failing to promote a healthy and sustainable environment for the community”.

An administrator will be appointed until elections for a new municipal council and the provincial executive must implement a recovery plan to guarantee the municipality meets its constitutional obligations.

The applicants accused the Makana Municipality of corruption, failure to provide water and sewage services and serious neglect of municipal infrastructure, leaving roads filled with potholes and garbage.