Strategic Policy Unit proposed for Cape Town - Patricia de Lille

Mayor also says city committed to hosting AFCON, but concerned at legal and financial implications


Mr Speaker,

Good morning, goeie môre, molweni.

This week is an important one for us in South Africa. Tomorrow marks the eighteenth celebration of Freedom Day, the anniversary of that historic day in 1994 when all South Africans went to the polls for the very first time.

We are constantly reminded of the importance of the right to vote and the dignity that right represents for the individual. Many of us fought hard for an open and free society and we sit here today thanks to the sacrifices of those brave men and women who fought for democracy.

Though politics can sometimes be fierce, I believe it is because there is so much at stake: our society's future.

This Council is a symbol of our democracy at work and I am proud to head it. But the work of democracies is not limited to Election Day. Democracies are dynamic systems that, through negotiation and compromise, try and deliver opportunities to people with full transparency and accountability.

And so Speaker, I believe that Freedom Day forces us to ask the question: are we delivering on the promise of 1994? Are we realising the kind of society that was fought for by the father of our nation, former president Nelson Mandela?

I believe that in this sphere of government, in the City of Cape Town, we are working towards the promise of 1994 on the basis of our five pillars: the Opportunity City, the Safe City, the Caring City, the Inclusive City, and the Well-run City. We are physically transforming the spaces of this city to change it as a place for all its citizens.

While the processes of naming and renaming new and old public spaces has been controversial elsewhere, I believe that we have initiated the kind of street naming process that brings everyone on board in recognition of our common history and identity.

The Native Yards designations in Cape Town are changing. The Naming Committee now includes two smaller parties on it and Capetonians can rest assured that everyone's voice will be heard and every public submission will be considered as we go forward.

I am confident that this will be a non-divisive and truly inclusive process. We are working to address the need for housing, one of the major legacies of our unjust past.

Last week, we opened a new Contact Centre in Manenberg that will help people access the services of this City in general and the services of the Human Settlements Directorate in particular.

I was proud to announce at that opening that where people qualified, we would begin the transfer of rental stock to residents so that they could take complete ownership of their homes.

I was also proud to tell people to come forward to see if they qualified for our Rates Rebate Policy, just one feature of our comprehensive pro-poor approach to service delivery, the most pro-poor approach in the country.

But that opening also had additional significance in that we invited Mario Wanza, an individual who had previously mobilised against the City, to be part of the celebrations.

That partnership was part of our broader process of engagement with people because we have learnt the lesson of 1994: those enemies can become allies when you can agree on a common goal. It is that lesson of compromise for a better future that informs all of our work.

In that spirit, we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Informal Settlements Network (ISN), bringing yet another NGO on board to our broad strategy for delivery and including other partners such as the Social Justice Coalition (SJC).

That broad strategy is the realisation from 1994 that everyone has a stake in determining the future of society, not just the government of the day. But where government must take the lead is in assisting those most in need. We will soon take the lead again when we announce the details of our annual Winter Plan.

A comprehensive, multi-Directorate programme, the Plan will coordinate the City's efforts to fight off the worst effects of the wet winter season. It is certainly true that the floods that come with the rainy season can adversely affect the poor as well as general infrastructure in the city.

Our plan helps to minimise those effects. And our plans have improved from year to year. In 2009, over 11 000 structures were affected by floods as opposed to just under 3 000 last year. Coordinated by our excellent Disaster Risk Management Centre, we will ensure that we are as ready as we can be for winter, on behalf of all the people of this city.

In 1994, we also realised that to deliver to everyone, our governments would have to operate with maximum efficiency and modern management strategies.

I believe that the City of Cape Town remains the leader when it comes to modern governance strategies. It is this principle of working towards being a Well-run City that has allowed us to maintain the confidence of financial markets, having recently had our Double A credit approved by the International Credit Agency, Moody's.

And it is our commitment to being a Well-run City that has informed the decision to propose the formation of a Strategic Policy Unit (SPU) today. This Unit will have as its primary function strategic policy planning, performance monitoring and evaluation. The Unit will act as a strategic coordinating point that ensures that the mandate that this government was elected on is implemented throughout the city.

It will identify how that mandate is being delivered on and where there are shortcomings that need to be addressed. This Unit's functions will be the practices of modern government at work. It will be an expression of our drive to build this city on the five pillars, especially the pillar of being a Well-run City.

I believe that there has been an organisational gap that requires the establishment of this kind of unit. We know that we are not the only metro to experience this need. Our fellow metro, Johannesburg, has established a similar unit. It thus is consistent with national best practice.

This is made especially true by the fact that the National Government has a similar function in the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Ministry.

Furthermore, this unit is consistent with international best practice, where leading City and National Governments have the organisational tools at their disposal to ensure that electoral mandates are given life in government.

This unit will help enhance the legislative duties of a range of stakeholders.

Indeed, this unit will give life to the proper policy and legislative powers of City leaders as determined by the Constitution and the Municipal Systems Act.

With it, I am confident that we are moving the City to the next level of government. And in so doing, we will improve our level of service delivery to the people of Cape Town.

Mr. Speaker, the well-run government has also compelled us to make our position on hosting the African Cup of Nations known as a matter of principle. The City remains committed to hosting this centrepiece of African events in principle.

However, we have raised our very serious concerns regarding legal and financial implications. These concerns are shared by other municipalities and relate to what we are able to commit to in terms of our obligations under the Municipal Finance Management Act(MFMA). It is a stance that has been endorsed by the National Minister of Sport as well and so we will await the outcome of these processes, hopeful that we will be able to join in in staging a tournament that would be the source of great national pride.

And through you Mr. Speaker, I must reassure this Council that the work of the SPELUM Committee will resume once all necessary changes have been made.

That is, there is a review underway of the SPELUM Committee's operation due to the fact that we are currently engaged in a process of minimising red tape and easing planning regulations. This includes a review of all planning regulations in the City as well as a new consideration of our consolidated Spatial Development Framework.

Once all these processes are sufficiently in line, SPELUM will resume with new effectiveness and will help us accelerate development in Cape Town.

That is but one review under way.

We constantly review our policies, practices and plans to ensure that all citizens are on board. We obviously cannot satisfy everyone. But we can consult and change plans where necessary and give life to the principle of broad-based democracy, another lesson from 1994.

In that regard, I urge all Councillors to view our development plans and obligations as parts of a larger whole working together. I believe this clarity is necessary as we engage in numerous public participation processes.

We have consulted on the IDP for instance. The IDP will remain a strategic document. But inputs given in various forums, including on the budget and the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plans (SDBIPS) is where the detail of local changes must reside.

Thus, it is at the level of engaging on the actual plans for delivery at the Sub-council level and in Portfolio Committees where Councillors must advocate for the local changes they want to see in our delivery strategies.

Mr. Speaker, I must apologise through you to this Council because I have to leave these deliberations early. But the reason for my absence is in fact a source of great pride.

Today, the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Provincial Government and a range of stakeholders from across society, will be launching the Economic Development Partnership (EDP). Working with a strategic focus, the EDP will work to create opportunity for all the people of Cape Town.

I have confidence in its success and I am proud that the City is a founding partner. I hope that, in time, all organisations that are committed to giving our people dignity and opportunity join it and work to make it successful.

Because if we truly learnt something in 1994, it was that we must not always remain stuck in old ways of thinking. Times change, as do the challenges we face. We have to adapt to them to meet them head on.

That is what we and our partners are attempting to do. And in adapting this city to be a caring place of opportunity and dignity, we will give real meaning to the spirit and promise of 1994.

Issued by the City of Cape Town, April 26 2012

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