“Let us be the agents for change, a positive change that we see Kokstad becoming a jewel of South Africa”
ON the 11th of February 1990 the former SA President, the Global Icon, Isithwalandwe Dr Nelson Mandela said and I quote “today I stand before you, not as a prophet but as a humble servant” Today a new chapter of my life is being opened, that of the servant of the people of this beautiful town, our precious town called Greater Kokstad Municipality. Today I am humbled by this occurrence in my life. Others may see it as a growth, I see it as a humbling commitment to change the lives of our people as we preach a better life for all. Today I am humbled by the expectations from my people, that my leadership skills must inspire change in their lives. As my name is entered into the history books of this town, I am challenged to double my efforts in changing the lives of the masses of our people.
As I fill the shoes of the great, my former leader in government and my current leader in my political life Cde Bheki Mtolo I accept the challenge with my eyes wide and with full understanding of what is expected from me. I wish to thank the African National Congress (ANC) for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of Greater Kokstad Municipality. As we embark on this journey towards building a better life for all, I wish to reaffirm that local government forms part of the overall socio-economic transformation agenda that is closest to the people. Therefore, service delivery is key in achieving better lives for the poor masses of our people. Being a Councillor has taught me one fundamental thing, that the government must service the people on their doorstep. My overall responsibility is to lead this Council in that direction of ensuring that service delivery takes a centre stage on our daily activities. Through the support of our hard-working Councillors the following must characterize our zeal to fast-track service delivery during this term of office:
- Deepened public participation through izimbizo, community meetings, ward committee functionality, one on one engagements with members of the public, and regular engagements with key stakeholders.
- Continue to work with Harry Gwala District Municipality to resolve all water challenges in Kokstad. Our contribution to this must go as far as assisting our district to reduce illegal water connections.
- Best financial management which will translate well-oiled service delivery machinery.
This will mean strengthening our debt collection, increasing revenue collection, closing of all suspected revenue leakages and dealing decisively with any forms of corruption and malfeasance.
- Ensuring local government that is transparent, accessible, and accountable to the people of our town in all sectors.
- Building a capable state through capacity building for Councillors as well as employing capable and qualified officials. That vision is better outlined in our National Development Plan vision 2030
- Create a society that cares for youth, women, and children,
- Work with Law Enforcement Agencies to erode any form of Gender Based Violence especially towards women and children.
- Robust political oversight and management that doesn’t compromise on doing their work,
- Robust Local Economic Development Strategies which will boost our economy and job creation, and
- First class infrastructure development and redressing the blacklog of development created by apartheid spatial development.
As the municipality we are taking our marching orders from the ANC 2021 manifesto which prioritised delivering better services to the communities through a much faster pace. As GKM under my leadership and the support from the Council we pledge to deliver:
- electricity to all citizens to fulfil universal electrification of our town.
- ensuring a much-improved municipal zoning that can accommodate a better integrated housing development. This must be prioritised as our town is growing at a faster pace. Housing development will also provide solutions to the challenge of illegal buildings that are confronting our town.
- To continue building a financially viable municipality as we did previously,
- Robust revenue collection which will strengthen our financial position.
- Strengthen intergovernmental relations with the Department of Transport so that infrastructure projects like the upgrade of main street and SANRAL interchange proceed with speed and address our road network challenges. It must be remembered that foreign investment is attracted through first class infrastructure and this development will contribute to that ambition.
Covid 19 has posed a serious challenge to the country’s economy and Kokstad was not exonerated from that challenge. Jobs were lost and poverty has increased. As the municipality we have a responsibility to come up with poverty alleviation strategies that will see our town regain the loss opportunities.
Our Local Economic Development strategies must look at advising this Council on matters of attracting investment, strengthening relations with business sectors, and strengthening relations with our farming community. We must also extend our vision to matters of Township Economic Development that will see our locations like Bhongweni, Shayamoya, Horseshoe having means of generating their own economic opportunities. Our LED must be on the forefront in driving our vision of “City of Economic Possibilities. Through our LED we will eliminate inequality, poverty, unemployment, disease burden and crime that comes as a result of poverty.
For us to have a prosperous province we need to start at a local level to shape KZN as a gateway to South and Southern Africa as outlined in KZN Growth Strategy 2035. Our municipality would want to make a meaningful contribution to the growth of our provincial strategy through initiatives like Eastern Cape Seaboard and Smart City concepts that we have adopted as Greater Kokstad Municipality.
While focusing on LED one cannot leave youth development as part of our key priority. A country that neglects youth is a country that doesn’t care about the future. Our town has been very vocal and persistent on the matters of youth development. We have strengthened our youth development Unit and their key priority now is to look at an integrated approach concept of youth development which will see our youth not only getting employment opportunities but also playing an active role in all economic activities in the municipality. Youth must also play a vital role in the battle of ideas which will influence all economic transformation agenda placed before us as a country.
In conclusion Councillors, officials, all stakeholders, and community let’s not drop the baton from those who came before us. My predecessor has set the bar. For us it is to lift it higher. We cannot judge it ourselves but a positive change to our people’s lives will judge us. I have faith in all of us that together we can move our town forward. Big cities were not born out of magic, but it took great thinkers, planners, strategists, and great leaders to build them. We have already started the journey. The journey will be long, sometimes it will be bumpy, but results will judge us. Our great grandchildren will learn about our efforts that gave birth to the city they will be enjoying in years to come. History will leave no blank pages. Let us be the agents for change, a positive change that we see Kokstad becoming a jewel of South Africa.
I thank you.