Umjindi community urged to identify and utilise opportunities
16 April 2012
In order to maximise service delivery and create a better life for all, municipal councils will have to ensure that their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) are realistic by structuring them in a manner that links them to, and puts them in line with, the relevant government department`s Strategic and Annual Performance Plans (APPs).This is the advice given to Councillors of uMjindi Local Municipality by the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature`s Chairperson of Committees, Mr Amos Fish Mahlalela, during a public hearing held at the Emjindini Community Hall in Barberton on Wednesday the 11th of April 2012.
"A municipality`s IDP cannot, for instance, talk about the planned construction of a hospital whereas the Department of Health has not budgeted for such and does not, therefore, have that project under any funded programme of its APP. Such an unrealistic IDP will simply be likened to a wish list that cannot be implemented." This was one of the many examples given by Mr Mahlalela as he simplified his statement to the audience.
The Emjindini public hearing was but one of three such public hearings held on the same day, the purpose of which was to involve the public in legislative activities by obtaining their views and other input following the provincial appropriation speech delivered by the MEC for Finance, Mrs Pinky Phosa on the 13th of March earlier this year as the Mpumalanga Appropriation Bill 2012/13. The public hearings were a historic trendsetting deviation from the approach adopted in previous years when the approval of the province`s budget would only depend on Members of the Legislature by virtue of adebate -normally held a week or less after the presentation of the Appropriation Bill with little participation of the taxpaying public. The other two such public hearings were held at Wakkerstroom under Gert Sibande District and at Kriel under Nkangala District Municipality
The well-attended public hearing, with a balanced audience comprising the youth, the disabled, the aged and people from other sectors of the community -both male and female -afforded the audience an opportunity to voice out a number of burning issues affecting them. These issues ranged from water deficiency, inadequate healthcare, dilapidated sporting facilities and poor educational facilities, to a blurred clarification of roles and the subsequent misunderstanding thereof between some ward committee members and ward councillors.
"The role of ward committee members is not that of monitoring fellow ward councillors. They are there to assist them in resolving issues that affect the community, "was the Chairperson of Committees` response to a question raised by one ward committee member during a question-and-answer session. He added that the current democratic government is a caring government that has never ever contemplated adopting a top-down approach, but rather embraces an approach that starts from the grassroots level moving upwards.
Also present at the public hearing was the Executive Mayor, Mr Lazarus Mashaba, who came to officially welcome the delegation and its support staff. In his welcoming address, Mr Mashaba emphasised the importance of community leaders listening to the people`s concerns and addressing them with deserved urgency instead of waiting until matters come to a head.
The Executive Mayor`s assertion enjoyed the support of Mr Mahlalela who was accompanied by his fellow Member of the Provincial Legislature, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public participation and Petitions, Mr Thabelang Maabane. High-ranking government officials who formed part of the delegation included the newly appointed Finance HOD, Mr J B Mbatha, Mr Mahlalela encouraged members of the local community to inculcate a culture of self-sustainability by learning to do things for themselves instead of expecting the government to do everything for them.
Mr Mahlalela cited foreigners from neighbouring countries who flock to this country in search of greener pastures as a typical example of non-dependency. "These people flock to this country because they see opportunities that we, as citizens of this country - born and bred here - cannot see. This because of the type of education imposed upon us by the previous apartheid regime that turned us into a recessive and subservient community. These people do not flock to other neighbouring countries, but choose to come here because of the opportunities they see here. Why can`t we see those opportunities ourselves and use them to our advantage?" asked Mr Mahlalela to tempestuous applause from the audience.
Issued by the Communication Section of the Legislature
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