Time to put people first
UNITY and a leadership that listens to ordinary folk, putting their concerns first, was central to President Jacob Zuma’s address yesterday to the thousands of people who attended the ANC’s 105 birthday celebrations.
This is the same plea made recently by the DA mayor of Joburg, Herman Mashaba, who urged employees to put aside their political differences and work together. Two political parties, same message. A central theme here is Batho Pele, a Setswana phrase for “people first”; and as many people return to work today following their December holidays, it’s important that public office-bearers remember that their first and foremost duty is to serve the people.
They should prioritise service delivery, ensuring that people’s basic constitutional rights are met.
When Mashaba took office after his party won the City of Joburg, which was previously ruled by the ANC, there was trepidation about whether he would show ANC-aligned employees the door or simply make their lives difficult so that they leave of their own accord.
There was also concern about whether the ANCaligned employees would pull up their socks and work, or simply drag their feet to spite the DA.
In a bid to alleviate their fears, Mashaba wrote a letter to city employees last week, expressing his gratitude and great respect for their commitment to working towards a better Joburg.
He further thanked them for the professional manner in which they had handled the transition, calling on them to adjust their mindset for the betterment of the lives of Joburg residents.
Over the years, the city has been bogged down by a billing crisis that left many residents frustrated due to being over-billed and feeling largely ignored by city officials.
If Mashaba’s letter is anything to go by, Joburg residents should breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the public office-bearers will continue to work tirelessly in resolving their billing issues, or better still, ensuring they don’t get ridiculously high bills.
By prioritising residents’ concerns and putting aside their political differences, public officebearers will fast-track service delivery and find solutions to the infrastructure backlogs, which Mashaba said amounted to R170 million.
The united front should, however, not be limited to the City of Joburg. It would be great to hear the same message of gratitude expressed by all the other mayors in our country, where each municipal worker will know that their duty is to serve the people and work in unity with their colleagues, regardless of their political affiliations or loyalty to factions within political parties.
The same should go for those holding positions in provincial and national spheres of government.
In his speech, Zuma called on ANC members to build a caring, listening and responsive ANC, reminding them of how taking people for granted cost them at the polls last year.
So, public office-bearers, remember that those you serve will hold you accountable in the next elections.