Durban - Former eThekwini city manager Mike Sutcliffe is now in the Msunduzi Municipality’s corner, helping the capital city draw up a long-term development strategy.
This was announced at the city’s executive committee (Exco) meeting this week.
Sutcliffe’s involvement in Msunduzi’s planning is part of a process supported by the South African Cities Network (SACN).
Sutcliffe earlier presented Exco with an analysis of how Pietermaritzburg is placed, which will form the basis of further discussions on the drafting of a city development strategy.
Challenges cited in Sutcliffe’s initial report include:
* Business confidence is at an all-time low.
* Msunduzi is among the 10 most populous cities in the country, and is more densely populated than some metros.
* Poverty levels remain high. An SACN report showed that Msunduzi’s average household income was among the lowest among the SACN cities.
* There are more women than men in the city, compared with the district municipality or nationally. Sutcliffe said this could be because of higher levels of migration, with more men having left the municipality in search of jobs.
Positives for the capital city included:
* More people gained employment, particularly in the youth sector.
* There was a marked increase in incomes in the upper- and middle-income households.
The report said Msunduzi had the fifth highest proportion of people with higher education of South Africa’s large cities, reflecting the excellent educational facilities in the city.
Sutcliffe said the draft report would be placed on the Msunduzi website soon, for the public to view.
Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela said the development strategy formed part of a vision that focused on a few strategic choices to ensure that the municipality had more equitable economic growth, reduced poverty and improved governance.
“Over the past few years, our efforts as a city have been inward looking. We have spent a lot of energy to put our city back on the path of good governance, with new management now employed to assist the staff in improving governance,” he said.
“Collectively, we must get back to basics and make our residents proud.”
Ndlela added: “We aim to be a safe, vibrant city in which to live, learn, raise a family, work, play and do business.”
The mayor encouraged residents and business owners to examine Sutcliffe’s report and comment on it.
“We are embarking on a process of developing our strategic options… In this regard, we are inviting… stakeholders to provide us with their views about the key strategies and action plans that should define our long-term perspective,” he said.
“These strategies must be unifying and clear so that successive administrations, residents and stakeholders are able to continually chart progress in realising these goals.”
Sutcliffe said he was happy to be working with the municipality.