Government responds to citizens’ concerns

Monday, October 17, 2022

With the Presidential Imbizo having passed through four provinces already, government is paying attention and taking steps to address concerns raised by citizens.

The Presidential Imbizo provides a platform for the President to engage with communities on their experiences of daily life and service delivery by government. To date, President Cyril Ramaphosa has visited four provinces namely the North West, Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng where he interacted with residents.

This follows the commitment he made to engage with communities throughout the country in his 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

President Ramaphosa is due to visit the Northern Cape on the fifth leg of the imbizo on Friday.

The imbizo platform builds on the District Development Model (DDM), which calls for greater cooperation between citizens and public representatives.

The DDM embodies an approach by which the three spheres of government and state entities work in unison in an impact-oriented way, and where there is higher performance and accountability for coherent service delivery and development outcomes.

At the inaugural March 2022 imbizo, the President spent some time with young innovators at the Mafikeng Digital Innovation Hub, where young people shared their inventive ideas with hopes that one day, with the help of the government, they will come to fruition. The hub was established in 2020 following the call by the President to expand township digital hubs which would incubate new businesses.

At the second part of the imbizo held at the Mmabatho Stadium in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality in the North West, President Ramaphosa said that government would place more focus on service delivery.

The inaccessibility of roads in some villages was among the sore points raised by communities at the imbizo. Since the President’s visit some progress has been made with 48 km of gravel road having been bladed from Swartkopfontein to Lekgopung in June.

Substance abuse was another cancer that was raised at the imbizo and this has been responded to with weekly awareness campaigns held at schools, churches and communities. The campaigns focus on gender-based violence and femicide, bullying and the prevention of priority crimes. In addition, the North West Education Department has conducted over 20 awareness programmes to address the prevention of substance abuse and drug peddling by learners.

Residents also wanted to see upgrades of the Mmabatho stadium of which work to renovate the VIP centre, ablution blocks in the main stadium and change rooms is underway. The resurfacing of the netball courts was also underway.

Residents also spoke of the redevelopment of Taung as an agricultural hub to which the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) says that the Taung Irrigation Scheme is the programme that has been linked to the agro hub. Future plans are linked to the irrigation masterplan that is being developed.

In April, the President embarked on the second leg of the imbizo, this time at the Mangaung Metro in the Free State. This as the metro was placed under national administration in the same month.

Like in the North West, drug abuse was flagged as an area of concern and to date, substance abuse awareness campaigns have been carried out in addition to the door to door awareness campaign on substance abuse carried out at Riverside.

Unemployment was also another bugbear expressed by residents of Wepener. The community also expressed concern at inaccessible small scale mining opportunities to which the provincial Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs will assist interested small scale mining applicants.

Concern was also raised around livestock theft in Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo. To respond to this, 300 tracking devices were installed on different farms and commonages around the areas. In addition, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has acquired two security drones for livestock security surveillance. The communities also received bulls for livestock improvement.

Infrastructure

Likewise as in the other provinces, residents in Mpumalanga expressed concern over the status of roads. To address this tarred roads in Mkhuhlu, Thulamahashe, Dwarsloop and Shatale will be rehabilitated to the tune of R50 million in the 2022/23 financial year.

Added to that, R10 million has been set aside to construct culverts that links villagers with amenities.  A request for a footbridge near Ekuphumuleni Primary School was also made with the promise that this would be constructed in this financial year.

Residents also raised concern with a lack of electricity in Klipfontein, Ward 21 to which a letter to Eskom requesting the electrification of the area has been made.

Improving the lives of residents

The fourth instalment of the District Development Model Presidential Imbizo was held in August at the Sharpeville Cricket Grounds in Gauteng.

Housing, sewerage, poor service delivery and unemployment were highlighted by residents as some of the key areas that government should urgently address to improve their lives.

Responding to questions and challenges raised by the residents, President Ramaphosa said although the district and the country as a whole faces challenges, government is determined to resolve these.

The President was firm with his assessment of service delivery not only in the Sedibeng District but in local municipalities throughout the country.

“Our municipalities must pay attention to what needs to be done so that our people live with dignity. We want to see an improvement in the lives of our people from a service delivery point of view from now on. We cannot, in this place which used to be the industrial hub of the country, allow our people to live in squalor; in a dirty place,” President Ramaphosa said.

Previously the President assured communities that their issues will not be put on the back burner, adding that the imbizo are an invaluable tool for helping government to zero in on the area specific and general problems municipalities are facing.

“This Imbizo programme is…a very meaningful process that allows our people to be able to talk to government and because we are a government that listens, as you talk, as you put your views across, we are able to take those issues that you are raising and address them,” he said.

Throughout the course of the four imbizo held to date, the President has listened to the complaints and concerns raised by residents and while it will take some time to address all the concerns raised, action is being taken. – SAnews.gov.za

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