New Bhisho master plan for services: Daily Dispatch

Premier wants voters at centre of delivery

PREMIER Phumulo Masualle and his executive plan to woo disenchanted voters ahead of the forthcoming local government elections with a grand master plan that strives to place voters at the centre of service delivery.

“Operation Masiphathisane”, a brainchild of the premier’s office and two years in the making, will officially be launched on May 11 in Mbizana municipality, which has been rocked by unrest from disgruntled communities.

A total of 120 government officials, led by provincial director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu and Masualle, have been booked into the Mpekweni Beach Resort for training on how to make the plan work.

The Daily Dispatch has seen a copy of “Operation Masiphathisane”, in which it is acknowledged that the Eastern Cape government has failed to make a meaningful impact with service delivery.

Provincial government spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said yesterday the plan was to no longer “enforce” services on communities.

“For an example, last month a community in Ntabankulu dug up a road in protest over electricity. We gave them a road when in fact they wanted electricity,” said Kupelo.

“Instead we will have to take orders from communities in terms of what they want to see happen before the other.”

Operation Masiphathisane aims to:

● Get prominent TV and radio personalities of Eastern Cape origin to be ambassadors of the provincial government. They will be accommodated in the provincial guest house in King William’s Town when in the province to assist;

● Strive for economic development that is more inclusive, and create decent work opportunities by identifying unemployed graduates and placing them in government posts where their skills are required;

● Strengthen working relations between citizens; ● Fight crime and corruption; and ● Protect the government fiscus and properties by eliminating violent service delivery protests.

The plan does not provide any specifics on how the government hopes to achieve the goals or give a timeline for their implementation.

Violent service delivery protests have flared up in parts of the Eastern Cape in recent months.

Hundreds of residents in Breidbach took their fight for housing to the doorstep of the provincial administration, blocking the N2 with burning tyres.

In Cathcart, about 1 000 residents took part in a violent service delivery protest which shut the N6. Three delivery trucks were set alight as locals protested against their hospital being turned into a clinic.

Kupelo said the officials being trained at Mpekweni would visit districts and wards at a later stage to share information on how to implement the plan. That would be followed by door-to-door campaigns.

Thousands of brochures will be printed and disseminated, while social and electronic media will be used to communicate the message.

Kupelo said expenditure would fall within the province’s current budget.

“Masiphathisane means ‘let’s work together’, which means the days of MECs going into a particular community as a lone figure are behind us. All government departments will now go into a particular community with various integrated government services in order to realise impact.”

The government’s ability to effectively deal with problems plaguing the province has come under fire.

Edmund van Vuuren, DA MPL in the Eastern Cape Legislature, said: “Government has good policies, but unfortunately they are not being implemented because officials are placed in positions where they are not fit to do the job.”

Border-Kei Chamber of Business executive director Les Holbrook said local government lagged behind in terms of its mandate.

“They are not delivering services and ratepayers are not getting value of what they are paying.

“I don’t think that government talking to communities is going to achieve anything. What they have to do is talk to the people responsible for delivering services.”

Sanco chairman in the Eastern Cape, Zukile Luyenge said: “The initiative will really assist …. Lack of information on a number of aspects has actually culminated [in] these violent service delivery protests.” —