PROVINCIAL TOP GUNS IN HIGH-LEVEL BCM VISIT: DAILY DISPATCH

THE full Eastern Cape provincial government executive led by premier Noxolo Kiviet meets Buffalo City Metro (BCM) officials today amid opposition calls for her government to get the metro moving again.

Kiviet’s spokesman, Manelisi Wolela, said the executive council outreach programme would kick off its three-day programme to BCM with a closed session of “unmediated” intergovernmental talks this morning.

This would see the executive engaging with BCM, led by executive mayor Zukiswa Ncita.

Both the DA and PAC have called for decisive action from Kiviet.

DA leader in the legislature Bobby Stevenson wants the provincial leadership to end BCM council infighting, service delivery inertia, the metro’s inability to spend money and to reduce the large number of officials working in an insecure “acting” capacity.

The PAC’s BCM regional chairman and councillor, Jerome Mdyolo, said the province needed to outline what it intended doing about the negative BCM audit, decaying roads and crumbling infrastructure in Bhisho.

Wolela said the session would see the two tiers of government trying to find “joint solutions for service delivery bottlenecks”.

Stevenson said: “The Premier’s Exco outreach to Buffalo City must deal with the key issues. The DA welcomes the visit. But it will only be of value if a course of action is put in place to deal with the underlying problems in the metro.

“The capacity to deliver services is affected by the large number of acting officials. There needs to be permanent appointments,” Stevenson said.

He said: “Grant funding to the value of R350million remained unspent as at the end of the financial year. Capacity must be improved.”

“The right officials must be appointed into key positions, so repetition of this does not occur. There also needs to be a focus on the development of King William’s Town and Bhisho,” he added.

Stevenson said the failure to provide “a good governance environment” in Buffalo City was detracting from the city’s appeal as an investment area, yet investment created jobs and helped alleviate rampant poverty and widespread inequality.

“BCM requires a strong political leadership, which is willing to act so the metro can move forward,” he said.

BCM’s manager of communications Keith Ngesi said the outreach visit was the first since BCM was upgraded to a metropolitan municipality.

Ngesi said: “BCM will again have to demonstrate its vision of being a responsive, peoplecentred, developmental city by facilitating this [outreach] exercise.”

He said the visit “directly” coincided with BCM’s anchor theme for the current financial year of “service delivery in action”.

Ngesi said: “It gives the opportunity to the provincial executive to interact with the communities and also monitor progress.”

Wolela said BCM was the second largest economic hub of the province, contributing R29.7-billion to the provincial GDP and serving more than a million people.

He said Kiviet would inspect a R75-million, 947-home human settlement project at Tshabo Village near Berlin and “hand over five houses to needy families”.

The packed programme included other visits of service delivery sites by delegations of heads of department led by the directorgeneral of the provincial administration, Mbulelo Sogoni.

The provincial delegation will meet with unnamed stakeholders in Auditorium Hall this afternoon, and later in the programme, meet residents at Potsdam, Tsholomnqa, and Zwelitsha.

The delegation will also hold a “culture change session” with BCM civil servants tomorrow.

Wolela said the outreach drive was part of President Jacob Zuma’s public participation programme —