Ser­vice first

Com­plaints must be dealt with, urges Gord­han

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - By Zo­lile Men­zelwa

LO­CAL gov­ern­ment was about mak­ing sure, ev­ery sin­gle day, that a dif­fer­ence was made in peo­ple’s lives – whether by re­pair­ing pot­holes, clean­ing the streets or mak­ing sure that com­plaints brought to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were dealt with with the nec­es­sary ur­gency.

Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs (Cogta) Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, speak­ing at the United Na­tions In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy for Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion na­tional event hosted by Chris Hani Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (CHDM) at Thobi Kula In­door Sports Com­plex on Tues­day, urged mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to put peo­ple first.

He said the Back to Ba­sics cam­paign, launched by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in last year, was about ex­actly that. “It is about the con­di­tions in which peo­ple live, the places where our chil­dren play and mak­ing sure we do things the way the law re­quires us to do them,” he said.

Gord­han said the main­te­nance of in­fras­truc­ture was im­por­tant for dis­as­ter man­age­ment, adding if in­fras­truc­ture was not main­tained, it could end up need­ing a lot of money to re­pair.

Sound financial man­age- ment, which many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were grap­pling with around the coun­try, was an in­te­gral part to the suc­cess of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

“There is the wrong pro­cure­ment of goods, which is not gov­ern­ment pol­icy, which means we should ask our­selves if we are reach­ing a point where peo­ple look out for their pock­ets rather than for com­mu­ni­ties. If we are reach­ing that point, then we need to know we are go­ing down the wrong path.”

Gov­ern­ment had to do its best to erad­i­cate poverty and to give the ex­pected qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion to the chil­dren and youth.

“We have a duty to pre­pare our young peo­ple for a higher qual­ity of life in the fu­ture. Gov­ern­ment work is about mak­ing sure that our com­mu­ni­ties live in dig­nity and that the youth have bet­ter lives.”

Fo­cus­ing on dis­as­ter man­age­ment, he said a dry sum­mer and fires were ex­pected.

“How do we work with lo­cal gov­ern­ment and other spheres of gov­ern­ment to cope with what hap­pens? Most im­por­tantly, how do we plan for dis­as­ters so that com­mu­ni­ties have the least amount of dis­com­fort? How do we en­sure we re­spond quickly?”

Gord­han said he heard there were back­logs in ser­vic­ing peo­ple pre­vi­ously af­fected by dis­as­ters. Gov­ern­ment had less money to spend than in the past and each year it would be less as the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct was low. “If we do not spend money we will not have more the fol­low­ing year. We must ask who says let me rather keep the money than fix the road, build a house or fix some­one’s roof? We need to make it clear that this is not ac­cept­able.”

Cogta MEC Fik­ile Xasa con­firmed there was a huge back­log of vic­tims of dis­as­ters wait­ing for aid. “To­day must be the start of ed­u­cat­ing our peo­ple on how to an­swer the prob­lems we have. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are close to the peo­ple but they can not re­spond alone to the prob­lems with­out pro­vin­cial and na­tional gov­ern­ment. We must have an­swers to the prob­lems.”

Pro­vin­cial chair­man of the House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers chief Ngan­gomh­laba Matanz­ima said there were peo­ple who did not heed calls not to build houses in light­ning prone ar­eas. Matanz­ima said there were sim­ple things peo­ple needed to know such as not stand­ing in the door­way, not rid­ing on horse­back and cov­er­ing mir­rors when there was light­ning – which peo­ple th­ese days took as superstitions. “Gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance takes too long to get to the peo­ple. There first has to be a visit, then the as­sess­ment, then the writ­ing of the re­port and that re­port has to still be sent to where the help will come from. It would be bet­ter to have help closer to where it is needed.”

CHDM ex­ec­u­tive mayor Mx­olisi Koyo said the dis­trict ap­pre­ci­ated be­ing cho­sen as host out of 44 dis­tricts in the coun­try.

“At the back of our minds we know politi­cians make de­ci­sions but the foundation of those de­ci­sions is the of­fi­cials. Those present must spread the gospel preached here.”

‘Do things the way the law re­quires’

Pic­ture: ZO­LILE MEN­ZELWA

STRATE­GIS­ING: Chris Hani Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (CHDM) hosted the na­tional ses­sion of the United Na­tions In­ter­na­tional Day for Dis­as­ter Re­duc­tion at the Thobi Kula In­door Sports Com­plex on Tues­day with, from left, CHDM ex­ec­u­tive mayor Mx­olisi Koyo, Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs (Cogta) Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and Cogta MEC Fik­ile Xasa

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