Zuma on a mission to better lives

YOUR editorial "All deserve sweet life", published yesterday, in which you question whether President Jacob Zuma will visit every hot spot and hand out "sweets", is an incorrect view of what the government is doing.

YOUR editorial "All deserve sweet life", published yesterday, in which you question whether President Jacob Zuma will visit every hot spot and hand out "sweets", is an incorrect view of what the government is doing.

You correctly pointed out that the government must improve service delivery everywhere and not only where there are hot spots. That is exactly what the administration has been doing since May last year.

Regarding housing we have developed a new human settlement concept, where we build not only houses but ensure that the surroundings are also habitable through the provision of social amenities and by ensuring access to transport, shopping centres and schools.

The government will spend up to R15billion this year to house the poor.

This is being done in part through the provision of housing grants.

Homes will be built in more than 8000 human settlement projects across the country. At the same time we are upgrading many of the 2700 informal settlements that exist alongside almost every urban and peri-urban town, to address the squalid conditions of those living there.

In doing so we are making a direct intervention into addressing the plight of the poor.

In addition, the government is making available a guarantee fund that will boost the provision of affordable housing for large numbers of working and middle-class people - nurses, teachers, public servants, police personnel and others.

The guarantee fund will make it somewhat easier for working people to access a bond to build their own homes, and should eliminate many of the reasons given by financial institutions for not financing the development of affordable housing.

Zuma's mission is to change the way the government works to improve service delivery, so that no South African lives in an area as poverty stricken as Sweetwaters.

The work undertaken by the president to achieve this includes the following:

l Reconfiguration of government that has included the establishment of the National Planning Commission and the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation functions to enable systemic improvements.

l The signing of performance agreements with ministers to ensure that outcomes are made clear and that there is accountability.

l The president has set time aside to meet senior public servants to share his vision, so that they understand what he means when he says we must do things differently. He has met directors-general and their deputies from every government department. He has met police station commanders, mayors, school principals and others to drive the message of change.

Most importantly, the president wants senior managers in the public service to be in touch with the people they serve. They should not wait until he visits Sweetwaters or any area before they act. They should know each area that needs attention.

He will not stop surprise visits as they help him to make his own assessments of progress being made with service delivery and to deal with incompetence and laziness.

The government has a programme of action, it is busy implementing it, and with support from many sectors we will do more to make a difference in many lives, in addition to those of the people of Sweetwaters.

lZizi Kodwa is a presidential spokesperson

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