I am pleased to report that the administration of the City of uMhlathuze is in the strongest position it has been in for a while. Our focus and commitment to our responsibilities, together with the spirit of teamwork that we strive to encourage, has promoted the growth and progression of the City.
Other municipalities now see us as a benchmark and approach us for advice and guidance on various municipal matters. We recently hosted Speakers from the Ugu District on a learning visit. Discussions included the Rules of Order and issues of protocol, the roles and responsibilities of the Speaker, the types of resources and facilities available in the Office of the Speaker and the City’s Public Participation programmes.
Our realignment has put focus on areas that needed attention and the implementation of our Turnaround Strategy is yielding real progress. All departments are focused on working as a collective to ensure that we work within our budgets and that we are able to spend our capital budget to truly deliver to our communities. The Turnaround Strategy has also been revised to address the changing dynamics our growing Municipality and ensure the Strategy’s relevance going forward.
As part of our service delivery drive we celebrated the arrival of ten new refuse trucks. This is an exciting achievement for the City; one which we are hopeful will assist in improving our waste collection. Our residents have been complaining bitterly about our lack of service delivery regarding waste collection and the time has come where now we have the correct tools at our disposal and we need to make a difference in the lives of our community.
As a Municipality we need to ensure that we live by our principle of integrity. We need to make promises about what we plan to deliver and we have an obligation to deliver on these promises. Our community is within their right to expect this of us and I have every trust that our councillors and officials will be able to deliver to their expectations.
Management continues to monitor and manage the Municipality’s financial situation and it is noteworthy that we all share the same common goals and are moving in the right direction.
Financially speaking it is rewarding to see that the tightening up of our internal controls has paid dividends. According to a report released by the Department of National Treasury our outstanding debtors longer than ninety days, expressed as a percentage of total debt, is the lowest in the country compared with the other twenty secondary municipalities.
uMhlathuze’s total consumer debtors are R216,4 million of which R150,6 million are current debtors that are currently billed. The debtors schedule shows that uMhlathuze debtors over 90 days are 22,40% of its total debtors while the average of the other 20 secondary municipalities is 80,6%.
Meanwhile the City’s total budget expenditure as at 31 March 2012 was 71,4%, which is above the aggregate spending of 60,8% by the secondary cities.
Due to our good financial management National Treasury selected uMhlathuze Municipality as a pilot site for the Standard Chart of Accounting (SCOA) for Local Government, which will soon be rolled out across the whole country. This is an important achievement for us because not only does it recognise our efforts in financial management but it also means that we will already be a step ahead when the project is implemented.
We eagerly await the results of Census 2011 and hope that it will result in a more accurate population count for the City that will bring with it important benefits for the Municipality. We believe that the City of uMhlathuze should be rated as a Level 5 Municipality, which would impact on our equitable share allocation from National Government and assist us greatly to achieve our service delivery objectives.
Regarding service delivery, we have already started working in alignment with the provincial programme, Operation Sakuma Sakhe (formerly the Premier’s Flagship Programme). However in the coming financial year we will be spending more energy on creating a greater understanding of Operation Sakuma Sakhe, which is a government service delivery model.
In addition the new financial year will also see the introduction of a 24-hour contact centre with a toll free 0800 number, which promise to provide a more professional and efficient interface with our community. Together with a planned Technical Control Room, the two facilities will dovetail to revolutionise our handling of public complaints.
Another exciting project planned to commence in 2012/2013 is a pipe replacement project in the former R293 towns to address the challenge of water losses in these areas. A reasonable budget has been channelled to give this project much-needed impetus.
In closing, I think it is important to realise that we are fortunate to be living and working in one of the major growth nodes in the country. Our City has great potential and councillors and officials are committed to working together as a team, displaying the commitment, drive and enthusiasm to ensure that the prospects for our Municipality and our residents can be realised.
Dr Nhlanhla J. Sibeko