Murray Williams’s neighbourhood watch has developed a five-step process to hold state agencies accountable.
In our neighbourhood, we are taking charge. Taking control of our future. And we’re doing it properly. Among our neighbours, we all agree safety is our most important priority. So we have worked out a plan.
Step 1: We are applying to register our Neighbourhood Watch as “Accredited” with the provincial Department of Community Safety. This means our Neighbourhood Watch will be recognised as “official” – trusted by our neighbours and the government.
Step 2: We are conducting a “Neighbourhood Safety Scorecard”. We are mapping our neighbourhood. Counting the houses – 205 – street lights, rubbish bins.
We will identify all threats and dangers. A few blocked drains, a missing manhole cover, potholes. Some dangerous building material, dumped on our park. Our local school has several holes in its security fence.
Our “Neighbourhood Safety Scorecard” will record and map every single item meticulously.
Step 3: We will then log all these issues with our municipality, and the other spheres of the government – like the departments of Education, Health, Social Development, Public Works.
Step 4: We will also keep our monthly report for our own purposes. We have finished ours, ready for the end of February.
Step 5: Our Neighbourhood Watch is meeting our ward councillor on Tuesday.
We’ll show him our “Neighbourhood Safety Scorecard” for February, and we’ll then drive through our area with him, so he personally sees our safety issues for himself. He’ll then sign our report. So we’ll all be in agreement about what the municipality and other departments need to do.
He’ll become our champion, he’ll start monitoring the municipality and others’ progress.
Our relationship will based on fact. Evidence-based.
We expect our municipality and departments will respond to some of our issues, and we’ll tick those off.
If some issues aren’t dealt with, we’ll re-report them. And we’ll keep our ward councillor “in the loop”, so he knows precisely how his municipality and the departments are performing.
In this way, we’ll be monitoring his performance too. This will help us decide whether to re-elect him.
By the end of next month, we’ll conduct our monthly “Neighbourhood Safety Scorecard” again, a fresh stock-take. And we’ll meet our ward councillor again, on April 1, to assess progress.
It may be a tough conversation, but it’ll be constructive. We want the state agencies to be capable and accountable. So our five-step process is designed to make this happen.
We’ll all be accountable to each other. And, most importantly, our relationship with the state will be based on fact.
We’re changing our world, starting with our neighbourhood.
* Williams’ “Shooting from the Lip” column appears in the Cape Argus every Monday.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.