Corporate and Shared Services MMC Cilliers Brink. The writer says Brink updates his community on crucial service delivery matters and other municipal senior officials must be challenged to regularly inform the public about matters affecting their areas too. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi
The message from MMC Cilliers Brink regarding electricity outages in Raslow and Monavoni got lost in the middle of the national political storm of the past week.

As former president Jacob Zuma first defied the call by his party to resign or be booted out and later announced his resignation on the stroke of midnight, Brink issued an update regarding the situation that had plagued the communities since the festive season.

Brink, a qualified attorney and one of the youngest councillors on the metro council, said he was aware of the frustration caused by the unscheduled rolling power outages and wished to apologise to affected residents.

He said electricity teams had been working around the clock to attend to outages and would continue to do so until it had been stabilised.

It’s not known if this had been done by the time Cyril Ramaphosa took the oath of office as president on Thursday.

Brink also said he had met senior electricity officials and received a comprehensive technical briefing of the progress and action steps required going forward.

For a number of months the city had been experiencing faults at the Raslouw substation and its feeder cables. To rectify this and stabilise electricity supply in the area would require capital and operational expenditure which had to be carefully planned, he added.

Further, Brink provided an update on other matters, most notably the intensive overhead line maintenance, tree pruning and repair equipment to improve line protection, such as isolators and fuses. But that is a matter for another day.

Brink, the MMC for Corporate and Shared Services in the Tshwane executive, is responsible for Region 4, where Monavoni and Raslow are located.

Since taking over control of the capital, mayor Solly Msimanga's administration has repeatedly reiterated that it inherited a massive infrastructure upgrading backlog which could not be resolved overnight.

In the past fortnight alone, there was a power failure at Thaba Tshwane and surrounding areas due to cable theft on Valentine's Day.

Region 6 residents had to bear with an urgent interruption to water supply following the shutting down of Olympus Station. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Service interruptions are and will always happen, particularly in the townships. The city and its people will not forget the Soshanguve 5, children who died when the high-mast light metal came crushing down on them.

While the findings of the investigation into the matter are yet to be made public, it was initially attributed to vandalism and lack of maintenance.

Back to Brink: he impressively updated his community on crucial service delivery matters. Other municipal senior officials too have areas under their watch. They too must be challenged to regularly inform the public about matters affecting their areas.

It is largely relevant in the townships, where decaying infrastructure has been accepted as the norm by residents who have never been exposed to anything better. If there are potholes, for instance, people should be told when these are likely to be repaired.

It cannot and should not be acceptable that service delivery issues in the townships only receive attention following tragedies such as the Soshanguve light disaster or the death of the family of five in a shack fire in Mamelodi.

In Raslow and Monavoni, Brink explained, cable theft compounded the problem of electricity outages and to constantly replace cables depleted the maintenance and repairs budget of service delivery.

In addition, he encouraged residents to establish community policing forums to link community members with SAPS personnel and resources.

Brink’s message and the interaction with the community under his care should be used as an example in all corners of the metro, even in areas where the opposition ANC has prevented the DA-led coalition government from functioning.

The message is, to say the least, in line with the principle of government by the people and for the people. In so doing, this will reduce the threat of service delivery interruptions, mass protests and general disillusionment with the city government of the day.

Mudzuli is Pretoria News assistant editor. He writes in a personal capacity.