Facing a huge challenge head-on

Cape Town is a tourist magnet, a city that constantly reaps the benefits of international fame, but our top priority must always be the people who live here, every day of the year.

It is local government that works closest to these people, local government is what turns plans into reality, and it is therefore vital that voters make the choice in favour of candidates who will be effective instruments for change.

In a city of 3,1-million people, pleasing everyone is no easy task, but we have plenty of reasons to celebrate our achievements so far, without losing sight of the enormous challenges still ahead.

We already know that the people of Cape Town are happy with the job we are doing; an independent survey by the Department of Trade and Industry on customer satisfaction showed general satisfaction with our service levels.

And it showed, too, that Capetonians are definitely more satisfied than most of South Africa’s other cities.

I went out there to hear what the communities wanted, and through the Mayor’s Listening Campaign emerged the Integrated Development Plan, a valuable tool that has helped us to start delivering on our promises.

The ANC’s 2006 election manifesto promises access to water, electricity and sanitation for all by 2014, and it makes me proud to report that to date almost 90% of Capetonians have on-site water, sanitation, electricity and refuse services.

In spite of the fact that burgeoning informal settlements in Khayelitsha means not all of those residents are enjoying equal service delivery, almost everyone across the city already has access to piped water.

Our manifesto says it is local government’s role to correct the weaknesses in housing delivery, and although Cape Town’s housing backlog remains our biggest challenge, we have made intensive efforts, and continue to do so.

Our housing backlog has almost doubled in the past seven years, yet we have seen a drop in the number of informal units in Khayelitsha by more than 15% between 1996 and 2001.

The city also spent 100% of its housing subsidy funds that were allocated to it during the 2004/05 financial year, which is evidence of how seriously we take the need to accelerate housing provision.

One of our most dynamic housing initiatives is the N2 Gateway Project, which aims to deliver 22 000 housing units, and the ANC takes its success so seriously that the project is specifically highlighted in our manifesto.

Our councillors are going to get even more training to help implement our plans, with all undergoing special skills development immediately after the election to make sure mandates are met.

That is good news as the project has the potential to become a benchmark for integrated human settlements in poorer communities. Adequate provision from all three spheres of government is vital to ensure that delays and statutory challenges don’t threaten its success.

Our huge challenge is that more than 64% of people in Khayelitsha, for example, still live in informal settlements. And the accompanying scourge of disease, crime and the continued threat of fires make the provision of housing for these residents of Cape Town a critical priority.

I am committed to strengthening popular forums.
My Mayor’s Listening Campaign is exactly such an example.

The administration I lead established a representative team in terms of racial balance as well as gender equity. There is more to be done, but I am convinced that we will achieve this.

I am proud that the city received the highest credit rating among municipalities as per the independent report by CA Ratings. For the same reasons and for the second consecutive year, the city also received an unqualified report from the auditor general.

It is indeed true that challenges and achievements are integrally linked and I look forward to working hard in a second term.

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