“For too long we did things the wrong way. The Auditor-General report says there is no municipality here. We failed in our duty.”
These was the opening remarks of Madibeng mayor Douglas Maimane during ‘n community meeting in Hartbeespoort on Friday night. It is the first time in many years that a Madibeng municipality mayor deemed it necessary to visit Hartbeespoort and engage with residents over service delivery issues. Despite a serious rain downpour, the hall at the Generaal Hendrik Primary School was packed, with residents spilling into the foyer.
“We are ready to be criticized. Don’t hold back punches, except maybe physical ones,” he said. Maimane repeatedly referred to corruption within the municipality and said he is committed to rooting out corrupt officials. We have already conducted an employee qualifications audit and a number of people in senior positions were suspended.”
Maimane’s admittance of the municipality’s failures over the past years and his commitment to urgently address urgent service delivery problems were positively received by community members. “I will work to mobilise this community to withhold taxes if you don’t deliver on your promises,” a resident told Maimane. This was met with enthusiastic applause from community members.
Community members raised basic service delivery issues like road maintenance, water quality from the Schoemansville Water Treatment Plant, general upkeep of the town, electricity, poor customer service at the licensing centres, Madibeng’s failure to answer phone calls, lack of a sewer system at Sunway and the invisibility of traffic officials.
Maimane also expressed his disbelief that many residents in Hartbeespoort still received water through asbestos pipes. Asbestos was banned in South Africa in 2008. “It is dehumanising that people still receive water through asbestos pipes. It must be removed this year,” he said.
The recent closure of the Pretville road and residents’ dire situation was also brought up by affected residents, with a Xanadu trustee laying the blame firmly at the municipality’s feet. “What I am hearing are dissatisfaction and gratification,” Maimane said. He did not elaborate on the topic.
In all the matters raised during the meeting, Maimane instructed relevant MMCs and Directors at the meeting to attend to them as quickly as possible. “I am not here for a talk show, the engagements here tonight must be meaningful. As public representatives, we are duty-bound to ensure that you receive quality service.”
He committed to return to Hartbeespoort in two months to give feedback on progress made.