EDITOR’S NOTE: A few weeks back, Grocott’s Mail published a story on the 19 October Makana Stakeholder Collaboration Meeting at the Monument. This is the full report on the meeting compiled by the Kagiso Trust’s PAUL SMITH, who also facilitated the discussion.
Welcome and background: Makana Council Speaker Mthuthezeli Matyumza
The municipality derives its mandate from the constitution, which emphasises sustainable service delivery and community engagement. Urgent turnaround is required in Makana, and the municipal executive must enforce institutional accountability to achieve this. Public participation and stakeholder engagements are essential components of the municipal mandate and must be embedded in the Makana municipal organisational culture.
The municipality cannot turn things around alone. We need to find a simple solution for better meaningful stakeholder engagement where we can build a shared vision for the city and municipality and collectively agree on the changes required. The municipal administration must implement the shared vision, and the council must hold the administration accountable for delivering this vision.
One of our biggest challenges is the current municipal organisational culture. This culture must change to restore the municipality’s integrity in our communities’ eyes. This will require strong political will and decisive leadership. In addition, the stakeholder presentations to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee (PPC) were accurate. Their submissions will assist the municipality in understanding the concerns and moving forward with focus and meaningful intent.
Makana has a very active civil society. This is an asset that we must harness and use effectively to achieve a municipal turnaround. The critical question is how we narrow the gap between the community and the municipality and increase stakeholder engagement, working together to build trust, strengthen relationships and implement change. I urge you to use this forum to make the best of our opportunity to turn around the Makana municipality.
Meeting purpose: Makana Executive Mayor Yandiswa Vara
We must all remember this day, as it will mark the beginning of good things for Makana municipality and its communities as we embrace stakeholder collaboration. We must learn to take care of our issues and support each other to make a difference in our communities because we care about each other and do not need to rely on outsiders to address our local issues. This collaborative action describes “Ubuntu”. All our futures are dependent on the extent to which we embrace Ubuntu.
This is a follow-up meeting from the PPC Oversight meeting, where stakeholders raised essential issues. One of the key issues raised at the PPC meeting was the trust deficit between the community and the municipality, which must be addressed urgently.
Stakeholders have reached out to the municipality requesting an opportunity to collaborate and plot a meaningful way forward to rebuild relationships between the municipality and the community. Transparency, openness, accountability, and professionalism are guiding principles for all our future engagements if they are to be meaningful.
Change is difficult, but the exponential benefits of meaningful change are significant. We must acknowledge that we must work together and build relationships to turn things around to bring Makana back to its formal glory. At the end of this meeting, we need an action plan based on the SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) that will steer us in the right direction for a sustainable turnaround.
Meeting discussion notes: a key issue raised is access to information
- Lack of access to information – the municipality website needs to be updated and maintained to remain current.
- Inadequate access to municipal records – agendas for meetings are not provided timeously or at all. This information should be freely available and accessible on the municipal website.
- Accessibility of municipal officials and for officials to respond to stakeholder communication.
- Access to visit and inspect infrastructure, upon arrangement, and with municipal officials to see the challenges and assist the municipality with solutions.
- Gatekeeping of information by municipal employees and internal bullying cause fear within the municipality, especially for the municipal workers that are responsible for communicating with the public.
- Lack of municipal responses to queries from various stakeholders – business, residents, and other stakeholders, thus blocking channels of meaningful collaboration and resolution of issues.
- The absence of community radio is causing a gap in municipal communication. Suggestions to revive Radio Grahamstown to improve the communication channels in Makana and address the radio license issues (renewals, etc.).
- A lack of communication within the Makana Municipality and no cohesion – collaboration can only work if municipal communication and community engagement strategies are improved and implemented.
Trust, accountability and transparency
- There’s a trust deficit between the municipality and those whom they are serving, the municipality needs to be more collaborative.
- The municipality has not addressed the advice from the Auditor General (AG) regarding the disclaimers identified due to a lack of information from the municipality. These must be clearly addressed, and solutions must be provided and implemented.
- There is a lack of transparency with reports that are being swept under the carpet and never addressed. This is a way of avoiding accountability; let’s get these issues out in the open and address them.
- The community needs to be involved and to be able to influence the municipal decision-making, including how the IDP is constructed and budgets are allocated, etc.
- Revenue collection – municipality is not collecting all monies due for services provided. This includes outstanding amounts by municipal employees, which is not a good example for the community.
- There is a lack of a clear set plan for mitigating the various financial challenges in the municipality – e.g., there is no clear plan for investment, development, and financial recovery.
- Excessive billing to residents for municipal services that residents do not receive. This contributes to the non-payment.
- Reducing income from businesses, for example, in the tourism industry, to sustain the town and the municipality is due to the lack of services being provided by the municipality (e.g., water and sanitation crisis) and people staying at alternative venues.
- Need an effective municipal internal audit team.
- Organisational culture affects service delivery and is a service delivery stumbling block because municipal funds that should be allocated to services and communities end up in the pockets of municipal employees.
- There is a need to build a collaborative entity inclusive of the municipality and the community – a forum that will address the present challenges in Makana to move forward.
- The behaviour of municipal officials joining and leaving the institution without reasonable handovers to improve sustainable leadership and management continuity.
- The municipality must adopt a more customer-centric culture and commit to improving municipal functionality, this change starts with leadership.
- Insufficient infrastructure maintenance on refuse collection, defective sewage system, water shortages etc., are issues. There is no maintenance of municipal infrastructure.
- Service delivery challenges are affecting local economic development. People and businesses are leaving the town, and new investors are not investing.
- The municipality needs to collaborate with stakeholders to address these issues effectively.
- Better communication on the municipal plans will also assist the community in understanding and assisting with the challenges and supporting the municipality.
The common sentiment from all stakeholders who attended the meeting is to seek a common vision and action plan for Makana municipality turnaround. This will require brave collaborative leadership from both community leaders and government leaders. Turnaround will require both political will and authentic stakeholder collaboration. All present at this meeting must commit to building relationships and repairing the current trust deficit, and this will be achieved through improved transparency from all parties. In addition, the municipality must be accessible to the community.
- Formal stakeholder collaboration agreement: The terms of engagement for stakeholders to collaborate, including specific stakeholder commitments to be signed by all stakeholders.
- Regular structured stakeholder meetings: Quarterly stakeholder meetings must take place to share and discuss progress against the agreed action plan. This will strengthen local governance and encourage community-centred action.
- Focus groups: There is a need to create specific committees and focus groups that will investigate and contribute to resolving specific challenges, such as:
- Service Delivery – to improve core service delivery by the municipality. This includes civil society oversight visits and deep sensing with the municipality, allowing for greater appreciation and effective solution ideation.
- Water and sanitation crisis: interest group to convene and discuss solutions and support regarding the water crisis.
- Waste Management: interest group to convene and discuss solutions and support for better waste management.
- Eskom Debt: an agreed recovery plan to service Eskom debt.
- Economic development – discuss challenges and opportunities to promote business and economic development. How to continue to attract and keep people and businesses in Makana. We need a strategic plan to grow the economy. Social Development – that will focus on issues of health, education, food security etc.
- Municipal organisational culture development – to support municipal organisation cultural change and municipal professionalisation, including leadership and ethics capacity building. This includes the development of a functional municipal organogram, job descriptions and empowerment of functional departments and addressing audit queries.
- Access to information – agree on access to information strategy, including the type of information and reports required, access mechanisms and timing of access.
- Municipal manager introduction: A formal introduction to the new municipal manager in November 2022.
Access to information and communication
- Municipal website: To update and upgrade the municipal website with relevant and current information for stakeholder access. Stakeholders must agree on what information must be accessible and how it is accessed by stakeholders.
- Broader community access to information: Use radio and other media platforms to enhance community access to information and improve stakeholder communication, as not everyone has a common point of access to information. This must be included in the municipal communication and community engagement strategy.
- Action plan and progress reporting: Reasonable and attainable goals and action items must be agreed to, and the meeting must focus on progress feedback and set new action items.
- Enhancing the community voice: We need to ensure that the community voice is enabled to participate in designing their future municipality and finding ways to support the municipality in achieving its goals.
Conclusion: Makana Council Speaker Mthuthezeli Matyumza
We will close the accountability gap that exists by driving a campaign that encourages people to “know your municipality”. We encourage stakeholders to engage the IDP and participate in the development planning of the municipality. We encourage stakeholder collaboration for the improvement of Makana municipality for the benefit of all citizens. There is no “us” and “them” anymore. We will be accountable to stakeholders, and you are encouraged to approach my office (Speaker) and engage me about accountability.
Stakeholder meeting attendees
Carl Brauteseth (Resident)
Yvonne Grethaw (Resident)
Jane Burnett (Resident)
Alje Bouwer (Resident)
Peter Sturrock (Resident Stakeholder)
Lennox V. Xalabile (Civilian)
David Kemp (SASSA)
Makhanda Circle of Unity (MCU):
Sakhe Ntlabezo (MCU)
Owen Ruwodo (MCU: Chairperson LED)
Warren Schmidt – (Principal, VGHS Chair of Makhanda School of Principals’ Forum)
Makana Residents Association (MRA):
Sally Price-Smith (MRA – Chair)
Tim Bull (MRA – Secretary)
Makana Business Forum (MBF):
Richard Gaybba (MBF – Chair)
Public Service Accountable Monitor (PSAM):
Jay Kruuse (PSAM – Director)
Nombombo Phila (PSAM)
Unemployed Peoples’ Movement (UPM):
Mahlubi Kuhlane (UPM/ MCF)
N. Soxuswa (UPM)
Ayanda Kota (UPM)
Makana Local Municipality:
Yandiswa Vara (Makana LM – Mayor) Mabhuti Matyumza (Speaker)
Vukile Wali – (Makana Mayor’s Office)
N. Santi (Makana Office of the Speaker: Manager)
Gubevu Maduna (Makana LM – Water Services Manager)
Asanda Gidana (Makana LM – Director: Engineering & Infrastructure Services)
Mzomhle Radu (Makana – Deputy Director Electrical Engineering)
Nomandla Mbanjwa (Makana – Manager: Legal Services)
Sinaye Jonas (Makana – Acting Director: LED & Planning)
Kelello Makgoka (Makana LM – Director: Public Safety & Community Services)
Xolela Kalashe – (Makana LM – Director: Corporate & Shared Services)
Nomfundo Ntsangani – (Makana – CFO)
Vayo Thandolwe – (Makana MMC CS)
Sizani Luvuyo – (Makana PR CLLR)
Gcobisa Mene (Makana Portfolio Chair – Technical & Infrastructure Services)
Ramie Xonxa (Makana Portfolio Chair – Corporate & Shared Services)
Likhaya Ngandi – (Makana LM – Manager: MM’s Office)
Yoliswa Ramoloko (Makana LM: Communications Officer)
Wanda Mbolika (Makana Contractors Forum: Secretary)
Anele Mjekula (Makana LM: Communications)
Brian Jackson (Makana: CLLR)
Wandisile (Grata: Vice Secretary)
S. Magwela (Grata: Secretary)
S. Waka (Grata: Transport)
Makana Citizens Front:
Milo Geekbooi (MCF: PR CLLR)
M. Budara (MCF: GTR)
Xotjeni Mbyoza (CoGTA: CDW)
Mangotjwa N (CoGTA: CDW)
Hogu F (CoGTA: CDW)
Mbali Melumzi (MPPU: CoGTA: CDW Coordinator)
Pakati Lizeka (DoSD: Social Worker)
N.P.J Dumani (DoSD: Social Work Supervisor)
Jongiwanga L (DoDS: CSD)
Eugene Repinz (Graham Hotel – Director)
L.K. Liwani (Veteran)
Nwabisa Figlan – (DSRAC-SPU Sarah Baartman: Assistant Director)
Pedro Tabensky – (AGCLE Director: Rhodes University)
Kathaza NM (DRDAR: Manager)
Patrick Sandi (Taxi Operator)
Pamela Zondani (Radio Grahamstown, Ntlazane Media: Manager/ Director)
Rod Amner, co-editor
Makana Business Chamber:
Vuyisile Mamkedi (Makana Business Chamber: Deputy Chair)
Otto Ntshebe – (Makana Black Business Chamber: Secretary)
Adam A (Makana Business Chamber)
Nomvuzo Mamani (Makana Black Progressive Business Chamber: Chairperson)
Niwa Yoland (Makana Black Progressive Business Chamber: Secretary)
Ngesi Nkosinathi (SACC Makana Leaders: Patron) Albany S (SACC: Chairperson)
Siphelele Hlazo (ECPTA)
Likhaye Thaw (ECPTA: Environmental Officer)
Paul Smith – (Kagiso Trust – Stakeholder Support)
Helen H. (River Rescue)