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Imbizos essential for electorate to check on government's performance

By unknown | Apr 20, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Last weekend saw President Thabo Mbeki touring Soweto as part of the government's imbizo programme.

Last weekend saw President Thabo Mbeki touring Soweto as part of the government's imbizo programme.

The programme provides the government with the opportunity to interact with the public.

On the other hand, the imbizo gives the public an opportunity to express its views on the government's performance.

Cynics have dismissed the imbizos as a public relations exercise aimed at pulling the wool over the public's eyes.

The importance of these imbizos is that people are allowed to tell the likes of Mbeki about the hardships they continue to face 13 years into democracy.

For example, in Soweto residents complained about non-performing councillors, saying "the people we put in power as part of your government are failing us".

In response, Mbeki said his government had no use for lazy councillors. If they cannot deliver they must go, he said.

Mbeki said ANC councillors sign a pledge committing themselves to serving the public with aplomb.

Given the various complaints about councillors, it is obvious that the pledge means nothing to some of the signatories.

On the other hand, the government says there is a lack of capacity and resources.

To remedy the situation, programmes were put in place to train local government officials and to provide funding for municipalities.

These should ensure municipalities have viable plans to improve service delivery.

These are some of the solutions the government has come up with to redress the shortcomings among municipalities when it comes to service delivery.

Unfortunately, experience has shown that some of the challenges faced by municipalities cannot be dealt with by throwing resources at the problem.

This is because some of those challenges are political rather than administrative.

Two recent disputes among ANC councillors in Polokwane and Mamusa municipalities are cases in point.

In both instances the dispute was around the appointment of a new municipality.

In Polokwane ANC councillors are accusing mayor Thabo Makunyane of dragging his feet in appointing a new manager. The position became vacant in 2005.

Members of the caucus want acting manager Letsepe Thobakgale appointed. It is believed the move is supported by key ANC provincial leaders, including some MECs.

Makunyane is opposed to Thobakgale's appointment because of his "incompetence".

Similarly in North West factions within the ANC are around the appointment of a new municipality manager.

Members of an ANC faction known as "Mapogo" allege that another faction known as "Taliban" is trying to hijack the appointment.

Mapogo alleges that the Talibans want to bring in their preferred candidate, Mekgo Matuva.

Mapogo claims the Talibans are even prepared to flout the ANC guidelines.

Interestingly, the parties involved in these disputes have accused one another of being driven by self interest, preferring someone they can control.


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