NEW MANGUANG METRO MAYOR HITS THE GROUND RUNNING

The city of Mangaung stands on the threshold of a new era and, like in 2011 following the decision of the Municipal Demarcation Board, its jurisdiction area extends again as it incorporates both the Soutpan and Naledi Local Municipality

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This presents the metro with both challenging and exciting times. The boundaries of Mangaung Metro are now made up of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu Dewetsdorp, Wepener, Van Stadensrus and Soutpan.

With me at the helm, Mangaung Metro will continue to accelerate service delivery, focusing on the eight developmental priorities that had been set by the previous council. These are:

  • Poverty eradication, rural and economic development and job creation;
  • Financial sustainability including revenue enhancement and clean audits;
  • Spatial development and built environment;
  • Eradication of the bucket system and VIP toilets;
  • Development of sustainable and integrated human settlements;
  • Implementation of an Integrated Public Transport Network;
  • Environmental management and climate change; and
  • Social and community services.

These are the key areas we will be focusing on in this fourth electoral cycle of a democratic local government. In my address to business leaders, officials and residents of Mangaung earlier in my term, I emphasised that under my leadership, our city will continue to uphold the principles of good governance. I will ensure increased public involvement in the affairs of the Council, sound political leadership and administration as well as fiscal prudence, working closely with the oversight institutions including the Office of the Auditor-General. I intend to sustain cordial working relations with labour as a basis for strategic partnerships. This work will advance development in our respective wards in the city.

The incorporation of Naledi and Soutpan brings with it further challenges due to the disparity of service levels, distance and the expansive rural element. All developmental plans as they apply to the regions of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu will equally be applicable to and cater for Naledi and Soutpan in all respects. Residents of Mangaung should regard this merger as bringing with it economic spin-offs in the realm of an agrarian economy, as the economy of these new areas is predominantly driven by agriculture.

As the city prioritises, it does so from the premise of consolidated and incorporated planning as defined by the current Consolidated Integrated Developmental Plan (IDP) and beyond this, an IDP of the municipality of Mangaung as re-determined by the Municipal Demarcations Board.

Integrated Public Transport Network

We have grown as a city, substantially in land mass—and as such, the challenges of mobility within the metropole need to be attended to as a matter of urgency. Reliable public transport is a live wire for our economy and, therefore, the more we expand this service, the more we will be able to attract potential investors and thereby create more economic opportunities for our people.

It is against this background that we fast-tracked the implementation of the much-anticipated Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN). The IPTN will ensure the provision of an efficient, reliable, safe and affordable public transport system for residents of Mangaung. Upon completion, the IPTN is envisaged to change the face of public commuting in Mangaung and, ultimately, the economic potential of the province. The first phase corridor along the Maphisa Route has been completed and the city will move with speed to ensure that other phases of the IPT Network are implemented.

Service delivery and dealing with backlogs

While Mangaung still faces backlogs in certain areas of service delivery, we remain firm in our vision to liberate the majority of residents from the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. This administration will ensure that it creates prosperous, liveable, inclusive living spaces with an abundance of social and recreational amenities, economic as well as job opportunities.

This includes working tirelessly to eradicate all sub-standard sanitation that is still prevalent in areas like Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu. Furthermore, water and decent sanitation are inseparable and inevitably, provisions for decent sanitation reinforces the call for greater water security if these backlogs are to be eradicated.

We will strive to ensure that our people benefit not only through improved services but from every aspect of our development agenda. Structured development, availability of services, housing opportunities, economic opportunities and the ability to unleash innovative and creative potential of our people in partnership with the private sector should begin to define our resolve to fast-track development.

SMME development

One of the major business sectors we are focused on empowering and growing is small business and the informal economy in the city. At the beginning of April, I handed 44 newly-constructed stalls to informal traders in Botshabelo; this is to ensure that they work from habitable spaces and provide customers with a service that will ensure they return. As part of our efforts to assist the traders with growing their businesses, in the long run, they went through intensive business training to empower them. Phase 2 of the same project is already underway and will yield 109 stalls. The purpose of such initiatives and our investment in SMMEs is to grow the informal economy sector to the extent that it contributes to the economy of the city and also through employing other people.

Social and community services

Over the past year, we have sponsored youth in our communities, assisting them to realise their dreams—from donating recording equipment to financing studies. Our latest success story is a 25-year-old young woman from the Batho location in Bloemfontein. Her dream has always been to become a fully-qualified pilot but this dream couldn’t be realised as she had no one to find her studies—she lost her parents at a young age and her grandmother last year.

In March 2017, I met this ambitious and highly-dedicated young lady who, through our interactions, requested a sponsorship that will give life to her dream. Anna just recently received her private pilot licence and is currently awaiting her commercial pilot licence. Furthermore, she is now officially a student at Loutzavia Flight School situated in Pretoria. Anna is just one example of the number of youth we have assisted over the past year.

We have also formed various partnerships with other stakeholders who have assisted us with building a house for a destitute family and donating wheelchairs to people who need them. I have since adopted the Bartimea School for the Deaf & Blind in Thaba Nchu, assisting the learners with some of their basic needs.
Mangaung has, over the years, entrenched itself as a sporting mecca, having hosted some of the biggest national and international sporting events. This includes the CANA African Swimming Championships hosted at our world-class swimming pool in October 2016, and the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League in May. We are excited to host one of the host cities for the Proteas-Bangladesh tour and the Global League in October. In addition to hosting such big events, we realise the need to continue providing quality recreational facilities to our people and, thus, laying a foundation for an inclusive city.

Human settlements

Noting that the city is still only enjoying Level 2 housing accreditation, the contribution it is making in creating housing opportunities in partnership with the province should set Mangaung on a path towards full housing provision recognition. Accordingly, the MEC Human Settlement has recommended Level 3 accreditation in April 2016, which is now awaiting approval by the National Minister of Human Settlements.

While lands parcels of Vista Park and Hillside View are testimony that the city is on the right track to achieve Integrated Human Settlements in Mangaung by 2030, we have noted that the city needs to move with speed to ensure that the remaining land parcels are developed expeditiously in response to the increasing demand for housing opportunities.

Together with this initiative, the city prioritises the programme aimed at addressing the peculiar home-ownership challenges faced by many in the teaching, policing and nursing professions and other professions should begin to bear tangible results for the so-called ‘gap market’. It won’t only assist to fast track housing delivery for this segment of our community but also create more housing opportunities for the poorest of the poor.

Professional career

I am regularly meeting with external stakeholders with the intention of understanding their needs. My leadership style is an engaging type of style where I would understand the views of different roleplayers within the city—whether business or organised groups like churches, the taxi industry, youth organisations and NGOs. It is important to formulate your vision based on what you pick up on the ground as a leader. The organisation that I come from, the African National Congress, believes in humility, collectivism and respect for the people you are serving. This is the cornerstone of my approach.

In my term, I am going to ensure radical economical transformation in the city. I am going to highlight and deal with the plight of women, youth and vulnerable people.

I have developed an outreach programme for my term based on the financial year, and that makes it easy for the current political leadership to understand the needs of the community. I am also utilising other platforms like social media and traditional media to dispose of information to our communities.

PMR.africa awarded Mangaung Metro the Diamond Arrow award for Most Effective Communication and Marketing Strategies in the Free State province as a result of surveys conducted across the province. This is an indication that our communication machinery is effective and talks to the community of Mangaung.

We will, from time to time, conduct these types of surveys to ensuring that we are effectively communicating with all our stakeholders in the city and beyond.

I’ve had an illustrious career in various government structures, having started as a teacher and working my way to where I am now. My professional career started as a teacher at several schools in the province and later as a principal. I went on to complete a BA and BEd and later, a Master’s degree in education specialising in education models of the US and Japan. I pursued studies in the field of gender equity at the McGill University in Montreal (Canada), the Toronto University in Canada as well as the University of Botswana. In 2001, I was appointed Director in the Office on the Status of Women, where I also responsible for the needs of youth and persons with disabilities.

My work in the local government started when I was a coordinator of the Municipal Infrastructure Grants of all local municipalities in the province, which laid the groundwork for a future in the local government.

This is what motivated me to pursue studies in this sector, I went on to study towards a post-Master’s certificate in civil engineering specialising in water and sanitation at the University of the Western Cape. Prior to my election as Executive Mayor, I served as Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) responsible for the Free State Department of Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements from February 2012 until 2016.

Our vision is to create a Mangaung that is “globally safe and an attractive municipality to work, invest and live in”. In order to do this, we need the private sector to join us on board. 

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