Byline: Andani Matumba
Monday, 20 March 2023
During the Question and answer session at the Govan Mbeki Municipality Mayoral Imbizo led by the Executive Mayor, Cllr Nhlakanipho Zuma, at Lebohang Sports Ground on Saturday, 18 March 2023, a man from Leslie accused the municipal MMC and the Mayor of being lazy to think as he was explaining how bad his living conditions were.
The man said that he and his family lived like pigs and asked whether it would have been ideal for any of them to live in such an environment where sanitation is not taken seriously asked.
Convened under the theme, “SAKHA IMODEL CITY OF EXCELLENCE”, the imbizo was an on-going programme across the municipality to engage with communities on matters pertaining to service delivery.
Residents from Ward 1, 2, 3, 6 and 16 came out in numbers to attend the iMbizo and to hear how their livelihood will be changed by the municipality.
The municipal’s commitment to improving the lives of residents in the above mentioned wards was outlined during the iMbizo.
During his opening remarks, Executive Mayor Zuma echoed the slow progress in service delivery for the community in Leslie/Leandra/Lebohang.
He highlighted amongst others; housing, sewer spillages, shortage of water, road maintenance, lack of recreational facilities, public lighting, unemployment and empowerment of young people in the community as some of the key challenges that are going to be addressed according to the available resources.
He also discussed plans for prioritizing local businesses and resuscitating major cultural and sports events formally hosted in the area.
“Let me take this opportunity today to invite you to the sports ground, and you must listen attentively. I did not say that I am welcoming you at the stadium, I said I was welcoming you at the sports ground.
Today we took the opportunity to visit the community so that we can first, admit our mistakes and swallow our pride because we have wronged you.
Many of you asked why the Executive Mayor and the Municipality would elect to host an event at a stadium which is not complete.
Now that is my starting point. When I first became Mayor in 2020, I was informed that the stadium was ready for an official opening, but when I went to see it, I refused to open the stadium because of the poor workmanship that was done on the stadium.
Even today, my intention is not to open the stadium,” said Cllr Zuma in his opening remarks.
He further pointed out that there were a lot of errors which were made when the stadium was renovated. Instead of an upgrade, the municipality found itself in a situation where the standard of the stadium was downgraded.
Cllr Zuma urged community members to be patient so that a proper budget could be put in place for the renovation of the stadium to rectify the poor workmanship that was done in “upgrading it”.
Five new extensions were promised to be developed in Lebohang and the areas ideal for the development were properly identified by the municipality together with the Department of Human Settlement.
The department also took an initiative to liaise with the private owners of land to negotiate the purchase of that particular land for development purposes.
Out of the five identified areas, there was only one piece of land which belonged to the municipality, the rest was private property.
The mayor announced that now from the land which belongs to the municipality, the development of the area has been launched at Ext 8 in Lebohang.
The DHS has appointed six contractors who will be responsible for the development of the area.
The companies are not from Govan Mbeki Municipality due to the lack of expertise in site development.
However, Zuma urged the main contractors to only begin with the work after they have given subcontracting and other work opportunities to local residents.
“A budget of R 175 million has been allocated to this project and the job is projected to be complete in 18 months, of which in the 18th month, beneficiaries will be moving into their houses,” said Cllr Zuma.
However, the municipality is faced with a challenge in that in the list of people who registered for the RDP houses, more than more than 50% of the list is made up of people who come from foreign countries.
Carbon capture Project
The municipality, together with The Council of Geo-Science, have initiated the carbon capture project in Leslie, which will be the first of its kind in the whole of South Africa and, will be launched for the first time in Govan Mbeki Municipality.
According to the mayor, the project has been initiated with the purpose of increasing employment opportunities for the people in Lebohang/Leandra/Leslie.
He further stated that the council saw fit for the project to be situated in the above-mentioned area to assist in creating jobs.
“This project will be funded in the amount of R 500 million,” said the mayor, urging community members to follow protocol for the success of the project.
He discouraged infighting amongst community members and SME’s when opportunities arise within the community.
The Executive Mayor further added this was part of bridging the gap between the municipal leadership and communities on the ground.
Through the question session, some of the residents expressed how displeased they were with the municipality’s service delivery, echoing on challenges of housing, clean water, unemployment and lack of development.
Responding to questions posed by residents, the Executive Mayor said the municipality is committed to resolving these challenges.
He assured residents that by working together with the municipality they can achieve more.
In acknowledging the part that the municipality must play in the community and its failings, the Executive Mayor also asked the communities to take responsibility for their part in some of the challenges.
Cllr Zuma spoke of vandalism and theft of municipal infrastructure as some of the challenges that affect service delivery at large and appealed to residents to work with the municipality in its attempts to address the problem.