The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Polity.org.za
I read the open letter to the mayor of Msunduzi Local Municipality from Mxolisi Ngubane in which he poured his heart to explain how he longs for the days when Pietermaritzburg was called the city of choice. Last week I had read another article about four women tackling potholes in Pietermaritzburg. On the 9th of January 2021 the Natal Witness had an article which was titled Msunduzi the City of filth and stink. This is how the capital city of Kwazulu-Natal is viewed from the perspective of ordinary citizens.
"A city of choice which has become a city of filth and stink"
I am not going to dwell on what brought us to this level. I look at issues from the perspective of a development practitioner and a change agent. The situation in Msunduzi Municipality provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the Masakhane Campaign which was launched in February 1995 by the first president of a democratic South Africa, President Nelson Mandela who said that Masakhane Campaign was an ongoing campaign designed to create a good relationship between municipalities and the communities they serve.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma initiated the District Development Model to facilitate a coordinated approach in government planning and building sustainable and cohesive communities. Both Masakhane Campaign and the District Development Model highlight the need for active participation of communities in their development as well as for instilling the culture of community responsibility and ownership to public facilities.
The Masakhane Campaign Document specifies that the democratic government elected in 1994 created municipalities with wall to wall ward boundaries with developed and underdeveloped communities as one. The democratic government inherited communities which had adequate world class service which needed maintenance and repairs, sub-standard services which needed upgrading, and non-existing services which needed to be provided. President Nelson Mandela during the launch of Masakhane Campaign emphasized the need for balancing allocation of resources to ensure that South Africa provides universal standards of service to all communities. He urged communities to actively participate in their development and to develop the culture of community ownership and responsibility to protect public facilities from vandalism and degradation.
I have been a member of parliament for 17years and Deputy Mayor of Ugu District Municipality for 3years. I understand that government has limited resources which is not an excuse for the situation of Msunduzi Municipality.
The biggest challenge in government is lack of coordination of government programmes and resources as well as failure to apply a developmental approach in addressing service provision issues. I am now the Executive Director of the Institute for Cooperatives and Community Economic Development (ICCED), an NPO positioned to provide training and facilitate development of sustainable communities through Co-operatives.
I developed the Cooperatives Based Community Economic Development Model to facilitate active participation of communities in their development. I strongly believe that Msunduzi Municipality challenges need a holistic approach which involves active participation of communities in addressing service delivery challenges.
A partnership between ICCED and TVET Colleges centered on technical skills training and development of viable Co-operatives would assist Msunduzi Municipality to address service delivery challenges in a developmental manner thereby building sustainable and cohesive communities.
The open letter from Mxolisi Ngubane to the Mayor of Msunduzi Local Municipality should trigger SETAS and TVET Colleges to align technical skills training to service delivery challenges of municipalities. Government alone cannot address service delivery challenges we need to work together to achieve a common goal.
Written by Ruth Bhengu, the Executive Director of the Institute for Cooperatives and Community Economic Development. (Writing in her capacity)