Since assuming office last month, I feel that we have made great progress in starting to deliver on the mandate given to us by the people of Cape Town.
We have passed a budget that will ensure we deliver services to all the people of our metro. Our Mayoral Committee is already working together as a team. As a team, we have realigned portfolios in preparation for our strategic focus of creating the economic environment in which investment can grow and jobs can be created. And we have created a stand-alone portfolio to address the most immediate social needs of the poor.
I am also pleased that we have created the space for us to resolve some of the issues of the past so that the new administration can get to the heart of delivery.
We are enclosing the toilets in Khayelitsha. We are moving towards some resolution with the people of Hangberg. We have met with people who feel that they have been neglected, like the Mfuleni backyarders, and are working towards resolving their issues.
And I am especially pleased that we have honoured Madiba’s legacy by renaming Eastern Boulevard after the former president.
It has truly been a time of progress. But, such as they are, what many of these achievements are reflective of is the importance of engagement.
It is true that we have been given an overwhelming mandate to govern this city according to a particular political plan endorsed by the electorate. The question remains how we implement that plan.
At the heart of the answer to that question is the principle of engagement. There is always room for collaboration and for people with different responsibilities to come together to resolve problems.
Indeed, we would be neglectful of our duties if we shut down engagement because of the mistaken belief that an election alone is sufficient.
There is a process that underpins our democracy and though its intricacies are often subtle, their complexities ultimately facilitate the prerogative to serve the people.
In this multi-faceted process, the voters endorse a political vision. It is then the duty of the elected leaders to implement that vision, working closely with the public service. It is at the next stage where engagement plays a crucial role because engagement determines the nature of implementation.
Key to this is the need for consultation with a number of parties. Almost literally, it can mean political parties.
I am pleased to have had a very fruitful and frank discussion with the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) caucus in council, Cllr. Tony Ehrenreich.
It is truly worthy of a healthy competitive system that the leaders of two political formations can come together to discuss differences. I am pleased that Cllr. Ehrenreich has undertaken to assist us in getting the crucial buy-in of his colleagues in the ANC caucus where they might have influence with local communities.
Of course, ‘engaging parties’ is not a phrase bound in literal meaning. Faith-based organisations and NGOs, for instance, also play a critical role.
Among numerous NGOs I have met with since assuming office, I have already met twice with the Social Justice Coalition (SJC).
The SJC has taken the time to present their concerns about sanitation in Khayelitsha. I agree that we still have much work to do, in Khayelitsha and in other areas.
However, what our engagement allowed for is the City to present the details of its service delivery roll-out and explain the dynamics involved in fulfilling our mandate.
This has now created an informed relationship between the City and the SJC, who now have a greater understanding of the complexities of providing services across the City and this new understanding will inform our relationship going forward.
But there is a final layer of engagement that is perhaps most important of all: with the people of Cape Town themselves. We are fast entering a period where we shall need to speak to as many people as possible.
Just this week, I had a productive meeting to discuss the framework for the City’s next 5-year Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The first part has been constructing an implementation framework based on the political vision provided by the electoral mandate.
On a personal level, there is a great sense of satisfaction in seeing the plan I campaigned on beginning to inform the City’s strategic outlook. It gives me a great sense of reassurance that I am implementing the voters’ wishes.
The basic structural framework I discussed this week is the basis for a much broader engagement. The next stage will be to take this plan to the people as the blueprint and ask for their input so that we can prioritise resources accordingly.
It is an exciting prospect and one that I personally want to include as many people as possible. I don’t want to only talk about building the city of the future together. I want us to actually do it.
It has certainly been an eventful few weeks but I am especially looking forward to the council meeting next week where we will name the new chairpersons of the portfolio committees. They will have the crucial task of considering important matters that need to be bought to both the council and Mayoral Committee’s attention. We will do everything we can to give them the support they need.
I also look forward to welcoming the judges that will decide which city has the honour of being the World Design Capital for 2014. A lot of time and effort has gone into our bid and it will be wonderful to showcase all that Cape Town has to offer to our esteemed visitors.
We have a lot of hard work ahead of us but I am confident that we have the people, the means and, most importantly, the will to achieve our objectives.
22 July 2011