Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa Picture: Etienne Creux

Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s claim that Tshwane is too big to serve all residents does not hold water, writes Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

Pretoria - We started the year with tyres burning, tear gas and, unfortunately, the smell of our hard-earned and costly infrastructure such as schools, clinics, libraries and other social amenities going up in flames.

The beginning of February brought with it mayhem and public order disruptions in many parts of the country, including and around Tshwane.

This will be a period of contestation of the administration’s record and public opinion will be brainwashed to resist rather than endorse that South Africa is indeed better than it was yesterday, and even better than it was in 1994.

All eyes zoomed in on the capital city, including opportunistic leaders who wasted no time in jumping on the bandwagon of the recent protests to advance their cause. One of those was the leader of AgangSA, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, whose claim on principle and the ability to pronounce informed decisions has proven a scarcity.

Mamphele’s claim that Tshwane is too big to serve all residents and that the mayor is far from the people on the ground does not hold water and needs to be corrected.

The local government institutional transformation processes were aimed at reversing apartheid-style municipal administration and management, leading to an all-inclusive democratic dispensation within the local government sphere.

The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality was established as the Greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council on December 5, 2000. This entailed the amalgamation of existing local authorities, which previously served the greater Pretoria and surrounding areas:

* Greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council

* City Council of Pretoria

* Town Council of Centurion

* Northern Pretoria Metropolitan Substructure

* Hammanskraal Local Area Committee

* Eastern Gauteng Services Council

* Pienaarsrivier Transitional Representative Council

* Crocodile River Transitional Council

* Western Gauteng Services Council

* Winterveld Transitional Representative Council

* Temba Transitional Representative Council

* Mabopane Transitional Representative Council

* Ga-Rankuwa Transitional Representative Council

* Eastern District Council

The amalgamation resulted in the following towns and townships now forming part of the new metropolitan area – Pretoria, Centurion, Akasia, Soshanguve, Mabopane, Atteridgeville, Ga-Rankuwa, Winterveld, Hammanskraal, Temba, Pienaarsrivier, Crocodile River and Mamelodi.

In 2000, the first mayor of a democratic Tshwane, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, said: “We inherited a city divided along racial and geographic lines, but we rose to the challenge by seamlessly integrating the east and west and north and south into one city – a single municipality of black and white and rich and poor united in the common objective of creating a city comparable to the leading capital cities of the world.”

We have over the last week demonstrated and produced information to support the fact that the areas have received attention post incorporation and reiterated our commitment to the full integration of the areas formerly under the Kungwini Municipality and ensure that they receive the same standard of service as the rest of the city residents so that we can address the legacy of uneven development prioritisation.

Had Ramphele conducted some basic research on Tshwane’s geographical spread and demarcation, she would have understood that the city adopted a multi-dimensional approach to delivery that includes the Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) model. Added to this was the regionalisation to promote consistency within the organisation by demarcating regions in geographical terms to create a more community-focused corporate management model for the city.

The city has 105 wards, 210 councillors and about 2.9 million residents. It is divided into seven regions to deal specifically with the enormity of the developmental gap that must be addressed and the multiplicity of programmes and projects that must be implemented to achieve the city’s objectives.

Thus the regions’ roles have been conceived as being both administrative and functional in monitoring day-to-day operations related to service delivery, as well as developmental in the sense that the regions co-ordinate and monitor the matching of interventions implemented through city departments with local (regional) needs.

The City of Tshwane remains firm in its position that it has not neglected the “new” areas. We must acknowledge that an election period is not the right time to tell a good story and agree that in the light of the present election environment, it is not easy to prevent protests.

While we have other mechanisms to raise complaints and issues, protests are seen as power-tilting engagement and will always be used in any multi-stakeholder environment to broker attention. We, however, have made an honest acknowledgement that our community engagement processes and outreach have not been sufficient enough to ensure that the communities fully understand our short- to long-term plans for the area as well as seeking sustainable partnerships.

Our challenge remains to ensure that residents understand the legal and democratic process and insist on a hearing process. The people’s right to protest, as enshrined in the constitution, is confined by the same supreme law, and it imposes civic responsibility equally to the sanctity of these freedoms.

* Kgosientso Ramokgopa is the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

The Star