(Acting City Manager)
MUNICIPAL MANAGER’S FOREWORD 2016/2017
Council has just started a new term, and this promises to be an interesting term with a strong focus on Economic Development, which is very close to the Mayor’s heart. Our duty as administration will be to support that vision, and we are committed to do that.
The term under review was a relatively successful term from a Governance point of view. It is a matter of common course now that the municipality has achieved four successive clean audits, and is on course to achieve the 5th one. This has been possible because Councillors, under the leadership of the Mayor, have been able to play their oversight role, which has been characterised by some very frank discussions, and Councillors have been able to raise issues without any fear or favour.
Administration has taken matters raised with humility, which has made a difference! It is also equally important to highlight that the structures of governance are intact and very functional. Besides Council and EXCO, we have a very functional Audit Committee, Performance Audit Committee, Municipal Public Account Committee (MPAC) and Section 79 and 80 Committees. It is also important to highlight that we noted improved participation of Amakhosi in the affairs of Council. It must also be highlighted that we have a very functional Enterprise Risk Management Department, and we have successfully implemented our Business Continuity Plan.
There is only one way of interpreting this, we are a “going concern.” We are liquid, enabling our municipality to pay of our debtors. As the municipality, we have one of the best debt collection rates in the country, but in the financial year under review, we saw a slight increase in debt, especially, in rural households. As the municipality, our duty is to educate consumers on the importance of paying for services that we provide, in an effort to achieve sustainability with regards to service support.
Generally on compliance matters, we have done relatively well. We have still maintained our status of “most credible IDP” in KwaZulu-Natal. Our budget is still credible, funded and sustainable. With regards to the “Back to Basics” approach, as set out by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the municipality scored a percentage rating of 94. This needs to be maintained not as a compliance matter, but rather as a demonstration that we are able to plan and execute.
It must be noted that we had an improved performance on Capital Expenditure, which increased from 81% to 93%, whilst still maintaining a 100% expenditure on MIG. I believe that we can improve on this performance if proper planning is carried out. There is a need to improve because our infrastructure, in particular, electricity and water, is ageing. The municipality continues with the “Pipe Replacement Programme.” In conjunction with the “Pipe Replacement Programme, we have also allocated a generous budget towards improving our maintenance in order to sweat our assets as much as we can.
In upcoming term of Council, we are going to see a change in the physical landscape of the municipality. There has been a change of approach from the planning point of view. Before we go out into the market, we conduct a thorough precinct planning process. To this end, the following projects are in the pipeline for the upcoming term:
- The Ridge Estate (Developer already appointed)
- Green Hill Development (Developer already appointed)
- Alkantstrand precinct plan already done and ready for market soon)
- Waterfront Development (In the process of precinct planning and should be fanalised by end of 2017/2018
- Airport Relocation Project (Service Provider already appointed and the feasibility study report should be ready in 2017/2018
- In the past few years we have experienced an unprecended drought. As a response, we have appointed a transaction advisor for Water Reuse for industrial supply, and there seems to be a good appetite for it.
The municipality has started a very important programme of road rehabilitation and the “Ranks Construction programme”:
- We are into the third year of road rehabilitation and already we have seen a very positive impact and the towns and residential areas are beginning to look admirable. We are about to start the second phase, consisting of another 3 years
- Public Transport Multimodal Facilities programme (Ranks) redesign. We have started on this important project because this is where millions of our people pass through everyday. To this end, we have started with Empangeni Lot 63 and it is now at completion its stage. In Richards Bay, the contractor is now on site. Esikhaleni should be starting in the new financial year. This will be an ongoing programme.
As part of support for SMME’s, the municipality has done the following:
- Partnered with SEDA to start the Construction Incubator programmes.
- Over and above that, the Municipality has also partnered with NYDA.
- In this term, the Municipality will also be building a SMME Park at Esikhaleni.
- Built Market Stalls at eNseleni.
- Automotive Support Programme for Mechanics in Richards bay.
- Revised the policy to have set asides for Women, Youth, People with Disabilities and Military Veterans
This is only a foreword and one may not want to be over-elaborate, but one can say that the hard work that has been put by the Political and Adminstrative Collective has not gone unnoticed, hence numerous awards that the municipality has won, which I may not enumerate here. We look forward to the new term of council which should see a strong drive towards economic transformation.