The DA in Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is concerned by the slow pace of implementation of a large number of resolutions approved by the council. This includes the failure of the municipality to implement a resolution taken by the council in August 2022. The resolution was aimed at the appointment of Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) members to fill the vacancies on the tribunal.
The optimal functioning of the MPT is critical to ensuring the efficient processing of land use applications, which have a massive effect on the land development in the municipality. Although the acting Head of the Planning Department (HoD), Nkateko Mabunda, has given the council the assurance that the MPT is properly constituted and meeting regularly, it remains important to fill the vacancies with capable unconflicted professionals.
The Executive Mayor, Mxolisi Siyonzana again failed to submit a report on the land use applications processed by the MPT and appeals tribunal during the first quarter of 2022/23 as required by the Mangaung Planning and Land Use Management Bylaw. This failure snubs transparency in Mangaung land use decisions. This is while land use decisions are increasingly internationally identified by academics as a lucrative corruption risk that does not receive the necessary attention.
Of further concern is the continued 67% vacancy rate in the Planning Department as per the Annual Report for 2021/22 tabled in council on 13 February 2023. The Building Plan department has a perpetual backlog in the approval of compliant plans and dangerous building complaints. The division is functioning on less than skeleton staff. The backlog has led to illegal building activities that will continue to negatively influence municipal service delivery, finances and strategic planning for decades to come.
Recent media reports that Building Control staff have been intimidated and threatened due to the backlogs, underline this function's important role. That is why it is even more concerning that the procurement of a much-needed digital building plan system, for which R600 000 was budgeted in 2022/23, has been shelved until at least July 2023. Although the acting HoD has assured councillors that they have submitted several requests to fill critical vacancies in the department, the funds budgeted for vacancies that have not yet been filled will now be reprioritised to other operational needs to June 2023 in the draft adjustment budget.
The DA will continue to exert pressure for the Mangaung Planning Department to be empowered to play the central role it should have in enabling and encouraging sustainable economic growth in the city.
Issued by Tjaart Van der Walt - DA Councillor Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality