The new mayor of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina, unpacked his plans for the metro at a press club in Germiston, on Friday, August 26.
He also fielded questions from the media regarding his inaugural speech and several issues since his appointment.
Regarding water, the new mayor explained what he meant by investing in water infrastructure to ensure security of supply.
He said that, as Ekurhuleni is moving towards single city vision, most of the infrastructure, including the water, needs to be re-engineered to fit that of single city. He aims to interconnect infrastructure to enable all eight towns in Ekurhuleni to share services.
“We want to avoid a situation where there’s water in Alberton and none in Benoni. All the towns must be able to feed to each other,” he said.
Emphasising the single city vision, Masina revealed that Ekurhuleni will build a city. “We want to build a city, but it will not be a completely new city, we will look at all the existing towns, choose a central one and build towards connecting it with others,” he explained.
He also, however, said that land availability and investors will play a greater role in this regard.
*Water leaks, potholes, grass and power outages.
What will his administration do to increase the turnaround time to fix water leaks, potholes, power outages. The mayor said Ekurhuleni will build internal capacity to reduce outsourcing of key municipal services, such as these, to ensure a quicker reaction time. He will also be launching an App in the next few days to help fast track reporting of such service delivery challenges. The App, he said, will enable residents to take a picture of the problem and send it to the metro with a GPS coordinate for better location by responsive teams.
*Building a university.
One of Masina’s top priorities is to build a university in Ekurhuleni. Elaborating on this issue, the new mayor said the metro will make land available for this facility, but will still require private investors to move the project forward.
*Electricity and substation.
He will be electrifying all settlements in the next five years in order “to give the people dignity”, taking into consideration that some of these areas are yet to be formalised while some are situated on private land. Masina said in Ekurhuleni there are currently 119 informal settlements and in areas where cables and poles are not permitted they will explore other means of power such as solar panels and renewable energy. “In my inaugural speech, I also spoke about plans to build a substation in Ekurhuleni.The power station is to ensure security of supply to residents as we electrify more areas. The paper work for building a substation will start in the next three months.”
*Land availability for development.
Masina does not understand why it takes so long for the metro to pass land approvals for development. He will see to it that the red tape that currently exists, is cut by half.
Masina will create a special unit to deal decisively with land invaders – the unit will be able to react quickly to remove anyone who invades land. He also mentioned that the metro will be building 100 000 housing units and will make available 59 000 serviced stands to fight the problem of land invasion.
To reduce the high rate of unemployment, youth will be encouraged to start small businesses and part of the budget will be set aside to empower small businesses.
His plans to implement 24hrs clinics are a reality and he will also ensure that there are doctors there as well. Masina said measures will be taken to ensure that the staff on night duty are safe at all times.
He will appoint a commissioner to probe all the tenders that are deemed to have elements of corruption. At the present moment, he said, the tender system is Ekurhuleni is open but the commissioner will still investigate those that are said to have corruption.
*Beefing up of EMPD.
In the recent budget speech, some monies were set aside to incorporate the current peace corps into the EMPD in order to beef up the department and increase resident’s safety. It was anticipated that the appointments will take place on July 1, but it has not yet happened. He requested not to answer as he is not privy to the documents yet.
In other metros, the skills of staff members are being re-tested. Will he be conducting similar audits in Ekurhuleni or is he satisfied with the status quo? Masina has confidence in the employees of the city and assured them their jobs are safe. He will not be purging anyone as all employees have been through fair government processes.
*Destruction of infrastructure.
He urged people to care for infrastructure, which is what many leaders have been preaching all along but people continue to cause destruction nevertheless, especially during service delivery protests.
People do get arrested, but there’s arguably a very low conviction rate of such people. So what will his administration do differently to ensure that perpetrators are convicted and even better, to prevent or discourage such behaviour? Masina said there needs to be ongoing engagements and education to make people aware that no matter how strongly they feel or angry they are, they can’t be destroying infrastructure.
He, however, said some of the destruction is just pure thuggery and police need to look into it.
With regard to the conviction rate, he said questions should be addressed to the judiciary, to find out why these perpetrators are not convicted.