A BACK-TO-BASICS approach requires government to put people and their concerns first, deliver municipal services of the right quality, ensure good governance and sound administration and provide sound financial management and accountability based on building institutional and administrative capabilities.
Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) outgoing executive mayor Mxolisi Koyo, speaking during his last state of the district address in Ncora last Wednesday, said the district authority had worked with local municipalities to achieve these goals and to advance socio-economic development.
CHDM had a responsibility to ensure stakeholders participated in the decision- making processes of the municipality.
The entity was gui- ded by a communications and marketing strategy and implementation plan to interact with its constituency and supported the local community media which reached more than 400000 people (almost half of the district population) and participated in 105 radio talk shows per financial year to the tune of R1.5-million.
Community satisfaction surveys had been conducted to assess how the people viewed and experienced CHDM services.
Focusing on service delivery, he said waste water treatment works had been built in Sterkstroom, Ncora, Gqaga, Quthubeni, NoGate and Kowa (Elliot).
In Ngcobo, Dordrecht, Cala, Machubeni, Nkobongo, Tsojana and Komani, water treatment works had been refurbished.
Bridges were built in Dubeni and Molteno while the tar road from St Marks to Sabalele was under construction.
“We have increased the number of households receiving water by 20506, reducing to 25% from 61% the number of households not receiving water.
“We have also reduced the number of households without sanitation from 33% to 15%, serving 59960 households,” he said, adding that 30816 jobs and work opportunities had been created.
CHDM was ensuring safe drinking water with monitoring and control stepped up due to drought and the low levels of water in reservoirs.
Of 1984 tested water samples, only 50 had failed.
“We monitor waste water and 239 samples were taken, of which 140 failed adequate regulation due to infrastructural problems in our waste water treatment works.”
Ensuring food safety was a challenge as 405 out of 552 samples taken in the district food outlets failed acceptable standards due to poor hygiene practices. CHDM inspected 245 funeral parlours and 56 did not comply.
“We have since engaged the stakeholders in the sector and held a district workshop in May that dealt with legislation, zoning, cemetery management and business management.”
CHDM undertook clean-up campaigns and waste management awareness campaigns to change behaviour, reduce waste and create jobs. The district authority had partnered with the Environmental Affairs Department on the Youth Jobs in Waste Programme implemented in local municipalities with the focus on waste collection, sorting, recycling, awareness campaigns and landfill site management.
R5-million was allocated to the Tarka- stad Revitalisation Strategy with a state- of-the-art Masincedisane Early Childhood Centre built in Mlungisi through a partnership with the National Development Agency.
“We have sent 44 young people to universities this term to study engineering, financial management, agricultural science, tourism and regional and town planning and 175 youths were trained in plumbing, water purification, reticulation and supervisory skills.”
When the council took over in 2011 the budget was at R857-million with no income from water and sanitation as these were contracted to local municipalities.
“In March 2014 council unanimously decided not to renew the contracts with local municipalities and since then our revenue has grown. This has resulted in an 88% (R623-million) increase in capital expenditure.”
The budget had since grown by 50% to R1.8-billion over the last five years. “The cash and investments of the municipality are reflecting R617-million and the projected monthly expenditure is R71-million which means the municipality will be able to pay for the operating budget expenditure for the next nine months without depending on grants.”
He said the audit opinion had steadily improved over the past five years from disclaimers to a qualified opinion. “We have observed a slight improvement and compliance in our SCM policies resulting in reduced deviations, fruitless and wasteful expenditures.
“A lot needs to be done to stop irregular and unauthorised expenditures and consequence management shall be administered. The average payment rate on outstanding debt by customers was currently low at 12%.
“CHDM also assisted businesses that applied for the district authority’s Business Development Fund.”
These were Agri Partners which received R1-million, Sondlisizwe Youth in Poultry R316000, Lym Designs and Printing R1-million, Silulo Ulutho Technologies R328258, NM Concrete R920000, Zamiwonga Trading Brick Works R387078, Red Squard R252097 and Venclean Cleaning Solutions R160880.