President to lead DDM Presidential Imbizo in Free State

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Thursday lead government’s interaction - in the form of a District Development Model Presidential Imbizo - with communities and stakeholders in the Matjhabeng Local Municipality in the Free State.

The Presidential Imbizo will take place at the Kopano Indoor Sports Centre in Thabong, Welkom, within the Lejweleputswa District Municipality.

This will be the 11th Presidential Imbizo led by President Ramaphosa since March 2022.

The Matjhabeng gathering marks a return visit to the province by the President following a Presidential Imbizo in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality in April 2022.

During the 2022 engagement, 42 community members, representing the seven regions of the Mangaung Metro, voiced their concerns to the President.

The towns represented in this discussion included Van Stadensrus, Soutpan, Dewetsdorp, Wepener, Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo and Bloemfontein. 

“Under the theme 'Leave No One Behind', this week’s visit will allow the President and other leaders in government to assess progress made [and] to be briefed on challenges associated with the improvement of service delivery since the President’s previous engagement with communities,” the Presidency said in a statement.

The Matjhabeng municipal economy is mainly anchored on the mining of gold and uranium and it is the hub of the Free State Goldfields.

The Lejweleputsawa District Municipality consists of five local municipalities, which accounts for a third of the province which is made up of the local municipalities of Matjhabeng, Masilonyane, Nala, Tswelopele and Tokologo. 

Ahead of this week’s Imbizo, national, provincial and local government spheres, as well as state entities, embarked on pre-Imbizo build-up programmes across the province. 

These activities were undertaken to stimulate communities’ participation in the Imbizo and to assist residents with services they may require or other challenges they wish to report.

“Thus, this Imbizo will also take stock of the progress made since the last Presidential Imbizo in the province.

“As an interactive platform, the DDM Presidential Imbizo allows communities to engage and interact face-to-face with the President, Ministers and the provincial and local leadership face-to-face.

“The District Development Model enhances integrated and sustainable service delivery through the maximisation of intergovernmental planning, budgeting and implementation towards creating inclusive economic opportunities for locals,” the Presidency said. 

The DDM also aims to intensify the delivery of services, promote social cohesion and advance the developmental state agenda, in line with the National Development Plan, and Growth and Development Strategies of the province.

The participation of leadership from the national, provincial and local levels is directed at maintaining accountability by public office bearers, the administration and promoting collaboration.

Commitment to improved service delivery

At the last Imbizo, the President heard concerns from citizens, including lack of service delivery, corruption, inadequate housing, unemployment and crime.

Ministers present at the Imbizo had committed to dealing with pressing matters, including the standard of water and sanitation and the state of roads.

Last year, Cabinet approved an intervention by the national executive in the governance of the Mangaung Metro, in terms of Section 139(7) of the Constitution.

Following failure by the Free State provincial executive to implement a financial recovery plan in the metro, the municipality was placed under national intervention.

At the time, The Presidency had said that this intervention was directed at helping the metro to improve its finances and to deliver on its mandate, and to return to sound governance and a better life for residents, the business community and other stakeholders.

In October this year, Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Pinky Kekana, conducted an oversight monitoring visit of economic and service delivery-related projects in Mangaung.

She noted some of the positive joint efforts to stabilise the metro, including the finalisation of the appointment of the Municipal Manager, albeit challenges remain in certain areas.

Kekana reiterated that the DPME was dedicated to continuing to help the metro overcome its challenges in the interest of service delivery to residents and positive economic spinoffs for South Africa.

“If we can all work together through an integrated approach and create an enabling environment, it will help the municipality and lead to enhanced service delivery, investment, and economic growth.

“Our first and immediate goal is to contribute towards assisting the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality absolve itself from the S139 constitutional intervention,” said Kekana at the time.

The DPME said its departmental specialists have supported the metro with comprehensive frontline monitoring reports and proposed interventions aimed at strengthening the capacity and overall operations of the municipality. –