FILE. Our track record speaks of a team single-mindedly focused on improving the living conditions of the people in Buffalo City. Our improved governance systems will facilitate greater progress in the next five years, writes Xola Pakati. File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
FILE. Our track record speaks of a team single-mindedly focused on improving the living conditions of the people in Buffalo City. Our improved governance systems will facilitate greater progress in the next five years, writes Xola Pakati. File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

The ANC will do more in Buffalo City after local elections – Buffalo City mayor

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 28, 2021

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OPINION: Our track record speaks of a team single-mindedly focused on improving the living conditions of the people in Buffalo City. Our improved governance systems will facilitate greater progress in the next five years, writes Xola Pakati.

On Monday, South Africa will go to the polls in what will be the sixth local government elections since 1996.

For a country emerging from a conflict as intense as South Africa’s prior to 1994, this is yet another milestone in the consolidation of democracy.

As one of the councillor candidates for the African National Congress (ANC) and incumbent mayor of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, one has been reflecting on the experience of the past five years and pondering the next half a decade.

Overall, the team of dedicated men and women in the political and administrative leadership of the city has done immense work to develop the metro, improve service delivery and deepen democracy at a local level. There is undoubtedly much more to be done and I have no doubt that the team the ANC will deploy to the metro government after the November 1 local government elections will discharge its responsibilities with distinction.

It is worth sharing a few but significant achievements we have registered during the past five years. One of our critical focal areas has been building the economy so as to impact positively on people’s lives. In a move that signalled a strong vote of confidence in our country and metro as a worthy investment destination, Mercedes Benz South Africa is investing no less than R13 billion to expand its factory and build a new plant to produce the C class model in our city between 2021 and 2027.

The investment also brings more than 30 motor vehicle component suppliers. This augers well for development, employment and social stability in our metro.

During this period, the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) rose from a 30 percent occupancy rate in 2016 to 75 percent today. This exponential increase is evidence of a growing local economy. With the country gradually returning to pre-Covid conditions, it should be possible to record further improvement in the next five years.

The ELIDZ also seeks to develop the infrastructure required to support targeted industrial activities, facilitate the beneficiation of mineral and natural resources and generate new and innovative economic activities.

The city is also revitalising the Dimbaza industrial park. In partnership with the Border Kei Chamber of Business, we are accelerating the city’s investment drive. We have also supported other economic initiatives such as the construction of hydroponic tunnels for vegetable production, building dipping tanks to improve animal health, installation of irrigation systems and other infrastructure to assist small scale farmers.

We have partnered with private sector companies to promote entrepreneurship and to support the informal sector and cooperatives in communities. We continue to invest in critical tourism infrastructure and to market and promote the city as a tourist destination of choice.

Our artists are an important pillar of the city’s cultural life and its contribution to the nation’s cultural output. The city has therefore supported artists to participate in national and international platforms to support their exposure, showcase their talent and place our city on the national and global map.

From its inception in 2016, the provision of clean water has been one of the city’s top priorities. We have therefore invested R340 million over the past five years. An additional R41 million will be allocated during the current financial year. These funds have gone towards the erection of communal water points in informal settlements and water tankers to remote communities. With the help of the national department of water and sanitation, we have up-scaled this service since the outbreak of Covid-19.

The city has made significant progress in planning, designing and building new roads for future growth. We have completed roads such as the Qumza Highway as part of the Mdantsane-East London Corridor and others in the Inner-City Precinct. Designs for other roads like the NW Expressway and the Mdantsane Access Road have been completed.

Information and communications technology form the backbone of the 21-century economy. The city has therefore rolled out fibre network, which strengthens its case as an investment destination. Municipal offices are now all connected to the fibre network.

More specifically, our investment has paved the way for innovative ICT and digitisation initiatives such as the MTN data centre, Cisco Net-academy, Mercedes Benz South Africa Learning Academy, Dimension Data partnership with BKCOB to support small farmers, Harambee Future Skills, the under-sea cable landing station, among others.

Working in partnership with the provincial department of human settlements, we have built and handed over 8 930 houses and 11 367 serviced sites since 2016. An additional 1 600 units will be handed over during the next financial year.

Apartheid spatial patterns remain one of the thorny issues for post-apartheid local governance. One of the ways through which we have been addressing this is by increased densification, equalisation of access to services and facilities, opening up new land for development close to economic nodes and developing transit-oriented corridors between economic nodes and marginalised residential areas. This is a work in progress which is also a function of the larger socio-economic transformation of the country.

Our track record speaks of a team single-mindedly focused on improving the living conditions of the people in Buffalo City. Our improved governance systems will facilitate greater progress in the next five years.

The ANC’s central policy concern has been and will, for a long time remain the resolution of the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We in Buffalo City have internalised the advice: “...Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.”

Vote for the ANC on November 1 and we will continue to build better communities.

* Xola Pakati is executive mayor of the Buffalo City metropolitan municipality and chairperson of the South African Cities Network Council.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.

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