Mov­ing be­yond giv­ing 67 min­utes

CityPress - - Voices - Her­man Mashaba voices@city­press.co.za Mashaba is mayor of Johannesburg TALK TO US

‘As long as many of our peo­ple still live in ut­ter poverty, as long as chil­dren still live un­der plas­tic cov­ers, as long as many of our peo­ple are still with­out jobs, no South African should rest and wal­low in the joy of freedom.”

Th­ese are the words of for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela, a man who be­lieved in peo­ple’s power to pos­i­tively ef­fect change in a so­ci­ety for the ben­e­fit of all.

On his birth­day on July 18, in­spired by Madiba’s 67 years spent in pub­lic ser­vice due to his be­lief in racial equal­ity and so­cial jus­tice, peo­ple across South Africa ded­i­cated 67 min­utes of their time to help­ing those less for­tu­nate than them­selves. Driv­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties was the hope that, one day, we would all be part of a more car­ing, in­te­grated, safe and healthy so­ci­ety.

The Gini co­ef­fi­cient (a sta­tis­ti­cal mea­sure of the in­come dis­tri­bu­tion of a coun­try’s res­i­dents) for Johannesburg sug­gests that it is one of the most un­equal cities on the globe. Cer­tainly, it is made up of many com­mu­ni­ties for­got­ten through years of gov­ern­ment in­ac­tion and poor ser­vice de­liv­ery.

It goes with­out say­ing that in­creas­ing ac­cess to for­mal hous­ing through hous­ing projects and the up­grade of in­for­mal set­tle­ments along­side im­prov­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery will make in­roads into re­duc­ing so­cial in­equal­i­ties and driv­ing sus­tain­able ur­ban­i­sa­tion in the city.

Our new ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing all it can to play its part in get­ting the ba­sics of ser­vice de­liv­ery right and cre­at­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for cre­at­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties and eco­nomic growth. How­ever, ev­ery res­i­dent has within them the power to shape their com­mu­nity for the bet­ter, even through the small­est of ac­tions. The mul­ti­tudes of peo­ple who vol­un­teered their time in mem­ory of Man­dela and be­cause of their be­lief in this power to ef­fect pos­i­tive change would sug­gest that I am not unique in this be­lief.

That said, we must all ad­mit that, no mat­ter how no­ble, giv­ing 67 min­utes of our time in one iso­lated burst is not enough to turn our com­mu­ni­ties into car­ing, in­te­grated, safe and healthy spa­ces. To do that, we need to make ev­ery day a Man­dela Day by tak­ing own­er­ship of our com­mu­ni­ties and help­ing wher­ever we can. Al­low me to ex­plain.

With a pop­u­la­tion of more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple, Ki­gali is the cap­i­tal and largest city of Rwanda. It has been the eco­nomic, cul­tural, and trans­port hub of the coun­try since it be­came the cap­i­tal at in­de­pen­dence in 1962. Like Johannesburg, it is faced with the pres­sures that come with ur­ban­i­sa­tion. This in­cludes the chal­lenge of waste man­age­ment.

Ris­ing to that chal­lenge, the res­i­dents em­barked on a clean-up cam­paign called Umu­ganda – com­ing to­gether to achieve a com­mon pur­pose. Ev­ery last Satur­day of the month, res­i­dents com­mit time to projects aimed at im­prov­ing their pub­lic spa­ces. Through Umu­ganda, Ki­gali is now lauded as “Africa’s clean­est city”. The peo­ple of Ki­gali are not merely re­claim­ing their city from dirt and grim, they are do­ing so fast.

There is no rea­son Johannesburg can­not do the same. In­spired by the ex­am­ple of Ki­gali, I have sought to en­gage city of­fi­cials, politi­cians from across gov­ern­ment and our na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety, busi­ness, faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tions, com­mu­nity lead­ers, and pub­lic fig­ures in or­der to find ways of bring­ing the spirit of vol­un­teerism and the prac­tice of Umu­ganda to Johannesburg.

By mak­ing our city cleaner, we dras­ti­cally im­prove the spa­ces we work, live and play in, and come that much closer to liv­ing in com­mu­ni­ties we can be proud off. We build a cul­ture of in­volve­ment, car­ing and com­mu­nal­ity which spreads be­yond a cal­en­dar day in a year.

In the next month, I will ask res­i­dents to take own­er­ship of their com­mu­ni­ties and help make our Johannesburg a lit­tle bet­ter by tak­ing part in our own city-wide monthly clean-up cam­paign. This will be the be­gin­ning of many such op­por­tu­ni­ties for the res­i­dents and the city to work to­gether to­wards re­al­is­ing the full po­ten­tial of our com­mu­ni­ties. I truly believe that the chal­lenges faced by Johannesburg can be weath­ered by work­ing hand in hand with the peo­ple of this great city.

Would you be will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in a monthly clean-up cam­paign for your city?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word 67 and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Nel­son Man­dela

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