Thembi Nkadimeng, Polokwane Executive Mayor, celebrated the end of her first year in office earlier this month and took the opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights of the past year.
Although it is customary and desirable that the term of the Executive Mayor should run in concurrence with the term of serving councillors, Nkadimeng took over from Freddy Greaver last year in July before he served his full term and will lead the council until the municipal elections next year.
“My first stop in understanding the dynamics and challenges in the municipality was to go through an intensive engagement and consultation with all stakeholders, from leaders in religion, traditional affairs, business, state entities, non-governmental organisations and the taxi industry, down to the youth in the municipality. This exercise helped my office to understand which issues to deal with in order of priority. The first 100 days were focused on ensuring that programmes that were already put in place are implemented to ensure that the communities get to see the day that they can enjoy the benefits of these projects,” Nkadimeng said.
According to Nkadimeng, the focus was on acceleration of service delivery with regards to water, rural electrification programmes and roads, finding solutions to deal with water losses and increase of sewage capacity and to ensure that revenue collection is increased.
Other areas she dealt with include progress made on illegal land use, plans for the Disteneng relocation, creation of job opportunities, keeping the city clean, enhanced customer relations, ensuring that the smart city vision 2030 pillars find their way into the city’s operations and continuous engagement with communities over service delivery.
“The municipality focused on financial management towards the achievement of a clean administration and it is important to note that this will require collective effort from all key stakeholders. Partnerships have been strengthened with various stakeholders including the office of the Auditor-General to implement processes that will contribute to clean audit reports and financial stability. A number of projects that include the replacement of the aged water pipe network in the city, building of a new high capacity waste water treatment plant and smart metering that accommodates provision of prepaid water and electricity that will help to reduce distribution losses and enhance revenue collection capacity of the municipality, is envisaged. The municipality will also build new electricity substations and explore alternative renewable energy sources,” Nkadimeng added.
Nkadimeng said that since the creation of a Customer Care Unit, services in the revenue section have improved significantly. Newsletters are generated and are highly appreciated by customers as crucial information is now communicated on a regular basis. The face of the rates hall changed, with new signage boards as clear indication of the service offered and rendered at each respective counter.
A call centre was also created at Customer Care, to improve communication with outside stakeholders.
Concluding, Nkadimeng said that, with the firm leadership and direction of the Members of the Mayoral Committee, her team has worked hard to improve the way the municipality provides services to the people, to turn-around the municipality to return pride to the people, to rebuild confidence and to act in the interest of the poor and most vulnerable.
“I take this opportunity to thank our traditional leaders and the community of Polokwane for being patient with us by giving us space to provide services to them. We are aware that there are still challenges, but we are moved by the principle that working together with you we can do more,” is Nkadimeng’s message to the people.
Story: BARRY VILJOEN