New lease of life for uMsunduzi

HUNDREDS of business,professional and political leaders have thrown their weight behind the cash-strapped uMsunduzi municipality by contributing ideas to turn its fortunes around.

HUNDREDS of business,professional and political leaders have thrown their weight behind the cash-strapped uMsunduzi municipality by contributing ideas to turn its fortunes around.

Yesterday the KwaZulu-Natal government launched a Friends of our City initiative aimed at bringing together various stakeholders to rebuild the city and improve investor confidence.

The stakeholders will meet on a regular basis to unveil a workable strategy.

Stakeholders including traditional leaders and non-governmental organisations committed themselves to championing changes in the council by putting their shoulders to the wheel for the revival of the city.

Provincial MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nomsa Dube and MEC for finance Ina Cronjé championed the initiative seeking the involvement of citizens.

Dube in March appointed a team of three "highly qualified independent officials", led by Johan Mettler, to help restore functionality at the council.

The ANC also took responsibility by recalling the council's executive committee, led by former mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, her deputy Mervin Dirks, and replacing them with a new leadership under mayor Mike Tarr.

The appointment of the administrator led to the suspension of managers who are currently being probed for mismanagement. This follows the council's dismal performance over debt collection.

The municipality was close to bankruptcy when it was left with funds to operate for only one week.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business president Zinhle Sokhela said the move to launch Friends of our City was long overdue.

She said business welcomed the government's initiative to resuscitate the municipality.

"We also wanted to play a part in restoring order and dignity to our city as business people," Sokhela said.

"But today we are glad that finally something is happening and as businesspeople we are committed to our role."

Dube said they were positive that they had turned the corner by ensuring that order returned to the municipality.

She said there had been a lot of positive developments since they intervened in the affairs of the council.

"The new path we speak of seeks to position uMsunduzi as one of the engines of our economic growth in the province.

"What happened in the municipality is an experience that will stand us in good stead as we usher in a new era for the city," Dube said.

Premier Zweli Mkhize applauded Dube, Cronjé and the municipality leadership for being champions of change.

He said he was certain that everything would be in order again at the council.

"We are making progress and the community has also indicated that they are happy with the move of changing the leadership at the council.

"We have also met ANC branches to understand their concerns and they have also approved our move.

"This initiative is aimed at building confidence among the people and to restore good governance," Mkhize said.

X