City pushing to end poverty
A high-level representation of the City of Johannesburg attended Region F’s Integrated Development Planning (IDP) meeting at a packed Braamfontein Recreation Centre on Monday night, demonstrating the seriousness with which the City viewed such interactive community engagements.
Among those present at the heated and robust but constructive session were Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Urban Development and Planning Councillor Roslynn Greeff, Region F Director Irene Mafune, councillors Nokuthula Xaba, Takalani Munyai and Francina Mashau, and senior officials of the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Emergency Management Services and City Power.
Region F comprises wards 58, 59, 60, 62,123 and 124 and includes areas such as Turffontein, Hillbrow, Bezuidenhout, the inner city and Steeledale.
Councillor Thobejane Ndoqo, who served as master of ceremonies, summed up the purpose of the meeting when she said: “We can’t plan alone or without involving the community at large. Because we are a true democracy, we listen to the people.” Councillor Ndoqo called on the audience to “keep those new developmental ideas coming”.
Budget and IDP consultation meetings are an important democratic exercise that allows residents to make inputs to the City’s development agenda and to get feedback from elected public representatives.
A moment of silence was observed just before the start of the proceedings in honour of the victims of xenophobic attacks that ravaged South Africa.
Addressing the meeting, MMC Greeff said though the City still faced serious challenges there was a need to build on the legacy of the successes of the previous terms under former Mayor Amos Masondo. She said it was necessary to revisit the IDP’s wish-list every year to track progress and get the basics right.
She conceded, however, that some of the projects had not moved as speedily as had been anticipated. She said one of the challenges facing the City was that informal settlements continued to grow even though the gap between the rich and poor in the city was narrowing. She outlined a number of new multi-million rand projects the City was going to undertake in the region.
The meeting heard that there was an increase in vagrancy and homelessness in the city.
One resident, Letie Tshwane, said there was rampant prostitution and that most of the derelict buildings had been sold to private white developers and had consequently become too expensive to rent.
“The City seems to be empowering the same whites by selling them the same buildings,” she said.
MMC Greeff observed that most of the residents’ complaints were more about service delivery issues rather than developmental ones. She said the council was determined to address the issues. To this end, she would soon announce an Inner City Roadmap to tackle these challenges.
She dismissed suggestions that Jozi@Work was not meeting residents’ demands, saying it was an exciting initiative that should be embraced by all. She said with the 2015-2016 financial year beginning in July, the City was gearing itself for the “final push” towards eradicating poverty and making Johannesburg “a smart city with smart people”.
The overall impression of the meeting was that although tremendous progress had been made in Region F in the 2014-2015 financial year, more still needed to be done to improve “the quality of life of citizens and create a socially inclusive and adaptive society in a sustainable manner”. To a large certain extent, both the community and City representatives seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet in their support for multi-billion rand projects aimed at making the region a vibrant place with a competitive, job-intensive economy.
However, jarring sounds of disharmony surfaced at question time. The meeting was adjourned after it overran its allotted time.