The Acting Head of Department for Public Works, Mr Thulani Mdadane, led a management delegation on Thursday 30 November 2017, to the Jozini community stakeholder engagement session hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Public Works. Chairperson, Ms Mbali Fraser, led the portfolio committee delegation that was in full attendance. All three spheres of government were fully represented at the gathering. Honourable Mayor Mabika accompanied by his mayoral delegation represented the Jozini Local Municipality. The event took place at Msiyane Hall of the Jozini Local Municipality within Umkhanyakude District, on the North Coast.
In her opening address, Ms Fraser clearly articulated the reason for targeting the visit to Jozini community, with special attention and focus to the Ward 8 community. Public Works has been at the centre stage of the visit due its mandatory service delivery status of being “an implementing agent” in the service delivery chain in the province.
“We are here to serve you,” said the Chairperson to the audience in a packed Msiyane Hall. Communities came in numbers as planned. Reasons for the visit were on various socio-economic issues as cited by the community, namely access to Public Works programmes, in particular the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Izanda Ziyagezana; the inclusion and allocation of tenders to emerging contractors within the area; eradication of corruption; access to affordable housing; ensuring safe neighbourhoods and families; access to quality health care and other economic opportunities.
Acting HOD for Public Works Mr Thulani Mdadane addressing the gathering
Ms Mbali Fraser Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on KZN Public Works addressing the audience
Leading the delegation and representing his Department, Mr Mdadane presented a clarification on the role that Public Works plays within the broader service delivery cycle. Thereafter, his delegation made four presentations, conducted by Messrs Zamo Zwane and Emmauel Ntsele (jointly on the Overview of the 2016/17 Annual Report), Mrs Jean Makhaye (on Draft Annual Performance Plan 2018/19) and Mrs Zanele Dlamini (on Draft Budget 2018/19). The reports were aimed at enhancing community information and understanding on why and how the department utilises its resources.
As the ‘questions-and-answers’ session got underway, it became quite easy for the day’s programme to be achieved without any misunderstandings and misgivings and that was due to the benefit of the Public Works reports. It was also worthwhile and befitting for Mr Mdadane as Accounting Officer, to respond to specific questions from the audience that required instant responses, which he did, to the satisfaction of the audience.
There are service delivery shortfalls but equally so, as Mayor Mabika alluded in his ‘welcome address’, there are significant pockets of excellence produced by the Department within Umkhanyakude District including Jozini Local Municipality. To mention but a few is a new clinic project completed and a hospital construction underway in Jozini. Highlights from the reports reflect the financial expenditure of R553m paid on approved property rates as per invoices received from municipalities, 484 work opportunities achieved through Izandla Ziyagezana programme against a target of 430 and 18 properties acquired against the target of 15, about 107 Infrastructure (Planned Capital) Projects completed versus a set target of 19 and 259 actual output on number of properties registered in the name of KZN Provincial government versus the 200 target.
The advantage of community engagement is transparency and trust. It is without doubt that as the infrastructure of the province continues to age, the provincial government faces increasing challenges with providing basic services. In addition, small municipalities often have a limited revenue base to pay for large projects. Ultimately, this leaves communities with the likelihood of compliance violations
Stakeholder Engagement: Msiyane community members from Ward 8 of Jozini
The confidence and commitment by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, working ‘hand-in-hand’ with Public Works and other role players will continue to inspire hope in the community for development.
Public Works remains at the helm to enhance community engagements across the province where communities will learn and understand more about “services offered”. Engagement of such nature will assist a community in learning about community issues, economic, social, environmental, political, psychological and other impacts associated with alternative courses of action.