Jo’burg’s ‘Clean Sweep’: The city responds

The Mail & Guardian is in possession of two city reports. Firstly, the report on the status of the inner city and proposed initiative and programme to address current challenges from the office of member of the mayoral committee (MMC) Greeff (dated October 10 2012) and secondly, the development planning report for the mayoral lekgotla (dated October 26 2012).

1. These plans were discussed and agreed upon almost a year ago, yet when the operation was effected at the beginning of October there appeared to be no follow-up plan to coincide with the initial removal of persons from the streets. Based on M&G street inspections of the inner city, neither simultaneous maintenance on roads and pavements or actual clean-up of rubbish has occurred in the precinct around Park Station and Kerk Street and in other areas where traders were removed. As of October 30, the City was unable to provide traders with their "short-term plan" as agreed upon. Why did the city start clearing out people with no follow-up plan? The issue of orderly and sustainable development was key in the approach in relationship to the informal trading challenge.
During the time that the above report was written it was done on the premise that the hawkers in question were legal. However, upon investigation into the structurally under-capacitated environment in which trading takes place; the City uncovered issues of concern with regards to how trading conducts itself in the limited trading space that is provided in a particular block.

Only 800 spaces are legally demarcated but 2 500 smart cards were calculated to be in the informal traders' possession while allegations of duplicated smart cards were noted. This was against the reality that, alarmingly, 8 000 traders were identified to be active in this very same space.

This startling discovery not only necessitated an immediate audit into legitimacy of smart cards and legality of all informal traders active but an initiation of discussions with the "legal" traders in an aim to collectively resolve the above matter.

The City remains pro-poor and developmental in nature while true to its vision of an engaged citizenry underscored by collective effort (together with all affected stakeholders) in addressing challenges we all face. This is the foundation upon which we as the City continue to build a better future for our communities and stakeholders. This includes the hawkers' community as well as the informal trading sector.

2. Why is the city still only completing its short-term plan when "the mayoral clean sweep" was envisaged and discussed at the mayoral lekgotla a year ago?
The item did not necessarily have to serve at the lekgotla. It was a programme developed as a sustainable solution that seek to take into account and address the various challenges (each at a time) that contribute to urban decay. The short term plan is as a result of consequences arising from investigation into the illegal trading mayhem which affects the legal traders in the City.

Short term measures are therefore needed in order to alleviate the loss of economic activity having to be undertaken by the legal traders while taking into consideration the infrastructure and facility needs that would have to be fulfilled in order for informal trading to take place in a regulated, safe, secure and developmental manner.

3. Please can the city furnish the M&G with the "monitoring and systems" plan required of each department involved in this operation as per lekgotla report?
Upon consultation with the relevant departments that form the clean sweep multidisciplinary team; we can engage accordingly in this regard.

4. Please provide us with each involved stakeholder/ department's "programme of action" as per the lekgotla report?

Kindly refer to answer to question 3.

5. The report notes that the programme of action will have "emphasis on the short-term" plan of the operation, but one has not been finalised as yet and made available to stakeholders outside the city (trader organisations, civil society organisations and the general public). Please explain.
The emphasis at the time of drafting the report was placed more on internal actions to be undertaken rather than external engagements.

External stakeholders engagement was envisaged to be in line with a communication plan proposed for approval and auctioning in this regard. Research, development underscored by continuous positive and productive engagement with stakeholders as per the GDS 2040 of the City; forms a part of this internal report at this stage.

6. The report talks of city officials who find "their hands tied by inappropriate legislation which at times fails to take into account the day-to-day realities of what officials do and what they need in order to discharge their responsibility effectively".
Please explain which legislation is "inappropriate" and how these directly impact on the work of city officials. For an example if an official serves a notice to stop an illegal activity (such as building an illegal structure) from continuing; some builders still continue acting illegally in many such instances.

As such by law court processes, which have proven to drag long and to a point of impotence, have to take place and while they do take place City officials cannot take further action on the matter other than to just continue serving the ineffective notices. Meanwhile other people further the trend by following suit and building illegally wherein the same above process has to be followed.

We therefore believe that an amendment in legislation would go a long way in assisting to address such inefficiencies in a manner that would give officials authority to discharge their responsibilities effectively. This would, among other things, address the challenge of many illegal structures mushrooming across the City and thus curb another key contributor to urban decay.

7. What discussion, and progress, has been made regarding the setting up of municipal courts as per point 11 of the lekgotla report?
The MMC for public safety would give a better account in this regard as the process is being handled by his department at this stage.

8. There are no signs of a "sustained education and awareness programme" around littering as per point 12 of the report.
Why? When, if at all, is this expected to roll out and how much will it cost? What will the programme entail? Which areas does it seek to target? The awareness programme will emanate from the communication plan in the process for approval and implementation which includes enablement and enforcement factors. The cost thereof is not yet in place. It seeks to target areas where illegal dumping and littering is rife, in particular, and the rest of Region F in general.

9. What "fleet challenges" are Pikitup experiencing? What is being done to rectify the situation? What are the costs involved?
The environment, infrastructure and services department and the member of the mayoral committee thereof or the marketing directors of the relevant entities can give an account regarding this question.

10. What are the Visible Service Delivery Forum's most recent agreed upon timelines, strategies and tactics to be implemented in relationship to management of the region on a short to medium term and long term basis? When where these finalised and agreed upon, if at all?
The environment, infrastructure and services department and the member of the mayoral committee thereof or the marketing directors of the relevant entities can give an account regarding this question.

11. What is the final cost of the programme?
It will be determined by the budgets allocated per municipal entity towards the development of the inner city and provision of infrastructure in relevant circumstances.

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Niren Tolsi
Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist whose interests include social justice, citizen mobilisation and state violence, protest, the Constitution and Constitutional Court, football and Test cricket.

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