Good progress and some achievements have been recorded in the provision of basic services over the first quarter of the fifth democratic government.
This is according to Chairperson of the Governance and Administration Cluster and Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, who briefed media in Pretoria on Sunday on progress relating to the implementation of government’s Programme of Action as announced by President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address in June this year.
Minister Gigaba noted that the number of households that were connected to the electricity grid amounted to 48 751 and 3 786 using non-grid technologies.
“In an effort to strengthen and support the planning and delivery of services by municipalities, the Service Delivery Budget Implementation Plans (SDBIP) for metros were submitted in line with the prescribed framework and were published with S71 Q4 on 29 August 2014,” Minister Gigaba said.
Efforts to strengthen and broaden public participation in local service delivery through ward committees were also in progress with a total of 450 Ward Level Service Improvement Plans having been developed since May 2014.
The improvement plans developed focussed on, among other things, the filling of potholes, repairing non-functioning traffic lights, preventing service interruptions, attending to billing queries and the cleaning of open spaces.
A total of 3 294 ward service improvement plans have been developed to date, said the minister.
President Jacob Zuma established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on service delivery consisting of the Ministers of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, The Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Home Affairs, Energy, Transport, Basic Education, Health, Public Enterprises and Rural Development and Land Reform, among others.
The IMC will strive to ensure a reduction in service delivery backlogs and accelerate water, sanitation, energy, roads and housing infrastructure delivery.
The Presidential Local Government Summit was convened earlier this month and was attended by 1650 Ministers, Premiers, Members of the Executive Council responsible for local government, Mayors, Speakers, Chief Whips, Traditional Leaders, Directors General, Provincial Heads of Department responsible for local government, Municipal Managers, Chief Finance Officers, Technical Managers, organised labour, business, civil society, academic and research institutions.
The summit adopted a Statement Of Intent that committed all parties to strengthen municipalities and ensure radical improvements in service delivery at local government level.
“The outcomes of the summit instilled a sense of urgency towards improving the lives of citizens and confirmed that “Back to Basics” is about setting clear benchmarks of performance in efforts to ensure that all municipalities perform their basic responsibilities, every day, without fail,” said Minister Gigaba.
Further to this, President Zuma announced the finalisation of a policy framework on how the urban system in South Africa can be reorganised so that cities and towns can become inclusive, resource efficient and good places to live in over the next 20 to 30 years.
He said the policy will also address challenges of rapid urbanisation and spatial integration.
In this regard, the Draft Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) has been finalised and is being consulted with various stakeholders.
Minister Gigaba said government was committed to partnering with the City of Johannesburg to resolve matters relating to their billing system.
He said due to an increase in the usage of actual meter readings instead of estimates, bill accuracy has been achieved and revenue collection has been improved due to system and process enhancements.
Also, there has been an improvement in customer services due to the regionalisation of the business model and improved turn-around times in resolution of billing queries.
“There are still challenges that remain to be addressed. These include data cleansing, poor quality in capturing new customers for services, which result in delays in the change of ownership and inaccuracies in property categories,” said the Minister.
He said the cleansing of data was currently being undertaken, region by region. To date, two regions have been completed.
Minister Gigaba said the Department of Cooperative Governance, through its government component, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), is providing technical support to 27 priority district municipalities with a focus on enabling them to address their backlogs in relation to access to water and sanitation services.
“Over the 100 days period, practical training was offered to 17 waste water process controllers and 22 artisans in Vhembe District Municipality.
“These apprentices will be absorbed as permanent municipal officials upon completion of the training.”
A similar programme for 127 identified apprentices is being extended to the Ugu, uThungulu and Harry Gwala District Municipalities.
“Through the MISA Bucket Eradication Programme, 513 households had their bucket toilet systems replaced with the ablution facilities in Northern Cape,” he said.
Through MISA, the same department provided technical support to municipalities in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.
Also through MISA, the artisan development programme is currently supporting 50 unemployed graduates and 27 municipal officials. A total of 300 additional apprentices will be enrolled into the programme during the course of 201415 financial year.
Minister Gigaba said a total number of 55 students who benefited from MISA’s bursary programme for technical students have recently graduated through the programme and are currently undergoing experiential learning in municipalities.
A total of 103 experiential learners and 50 waterwastewater process controllers have been deployed in municipalities to date.
Through the Community Work Programme,178 788 work opportunities were created for July.
Source : SAnews.gov.za