SJC using gimmicks to generate publicity - Cape Town

Ernest Sonnenberg says coalition should report difficulties in roll-out of janitorial services programme as they arise

City responds to SJC stunt

Yesterday's conduct by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), where they deliberately engaged in an illegal protest as part of an obvious publicity stunt, is perplexing to the City for a number of reasons.

The City has had extensive engagements with the SJC over the last two years. This as a result of a genuine desire to co-operate wherever possible.

The Executive Mayor has provided two possible dates for a meeting to discuss their latest demands, but they have yet to respond. It is therefore puzzling that they state that the Mayor is unwilling to engage.

The SJC also choose to ignore the fact that the Cape Town leads the country in terms of the provision of sanitation. The National Department of Water Affairs has found that the City provides 100% access to adequate sanitation. This high level of service provision is underscored by the results of the Census.

The City has, over the last 10 years, experienced the second highest rate of urbanisation in South Africa. As such, there will always be challenges related to the provision of sanitation, especially as a result of the peculiarities of the geography of the city and high levels of density. Despite these challenges, we continue to provide a range of high quality services.

As part of our commitment to improving service levels, we introduced a janitorial programme which sees toilets in informal settlements cleaned by the City on a regular basis. This service is unique in South Africa, and demonstrates our efforts to build a Caring City.

The City currently employs approximately 800 cleaners at any given time to clean toilets in informal settlements. These cleaners are employed as part of our Expanded Public Works Programme, fulfilling the twin objectives of employment creation and improving service levels. The cleaners work in informal settlements around the city and not just in Khayelitsha, where the SJC focuses their attention. Janitors are provided with protective clothing, necessary immunisation and training.

There will always be management challenges in a programme of this nature, and the City has sought to respond to these as they arise.

If the SJC has concerns over the roll-out of the programme, these should be reported as they arise so that they can be remedied, not kept back to generate self-serving publicity.

It must be stressed that while the City did, in good faith, discuss the roll-out of this programme with the SJC, this is not an SJC-led initiative. It is a normal City delivery project and is funded and managed as such.

It is disappointing that the SJC resorted to an obvious gimmick to create publicity, instead of sincerely engaging with the City, as we have always done with them.

For the record, the City has engaged with the SJC in the following ways since 2011:

  • The City has held meetings on a political and official level with the SJC regarding the janitorial policy over the past two years, particularly at the end of 2012. The City has further engaged in writing on this matter throughout 2013, answering requests and providing information. The City has availed dates for a meeting in this regard but there has been no response from the SJC.
  • In February 2013 the Mayor attended a march by the SJC in Khayelitsha on concerns raised by them regarding street lights. Reported faulty street lights were fixed.
  • From February 2013 until August 2013, the City responded to various requests regarding the City's contract on Chemical Toilets in Khayelitsha. This has included participation on a political and official level at the SJC's social audit and a detailed response to their findings, the provision of tender documentation, copies of invoices and payments, proof of delivery, monitoring and tracking information, as well as recent concerns the SJC had around the tender process which they had misunderstood.
  • In July 2013 the City received a request from the SJC for service delivery agreements and related information for area cleaning and refuse removal in Khayelitsha. The City availed to the SJC all relevant tender documents, an explanation memo, copies of invoices and proof of payment as well as monitoring forms. The City has received a follow up request on 2 September 2013 and has advised the SJC that they will be responded to in due course.

The compilation of the above is extremely time-consuming and often distracts officials from the actual job of service delivery but we comply in the interests of being a responsive and transparent government.

Statement issued by Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, City of Cape Town, September 12 2013

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