KLCBT’s input into the City’s Integrated Development PlanAuthor: KLCBT | Published by KLCBT on 09 November 2017 at 08:00:14 | Last Updated On: 9 November 2017
The key message to the City, delivered by KLCBT, was “Get your finances in order, spend every effort on the revenue enhancement strategy, and get service delivery up to a world-class standard.
KLCBT sketched the background of issues and facts that were taken into account as the basis of their recommendations. This highlighted the escalating poverty as a result of a high population growth versus a low economic growth.
Finalise critical strategies with private sector consultation and buy-in, these are, the Local Economic Development Strategy, the Tourism Sector Plan and the two Water Master Plans.
Focus on sectors with growth potential and make it easy on investors.
A list of 20 examples of things that could be implemented to stimulate economic growth and tourism, was also included in the submission.
The Acting Mayor welcomed the submission and undertook to take us up on the offer to assist in the development of the said strategies and to meet with formal business every three months to align plans and focus.
Herewith the full submission:
City of Mbombela
Attention: Mr Johannes Malaudzi
RE: 2018/19 IDP INPUT
Thank you once again for the opportunity to make this presentation and we look forward to do the verbal presentation on 31 October 2017.
It is our understanding that City of Mbombela is in serious financial trouble. This has resulted in many occasions of uncertainty of basic services, i.e. electricity and water. Equally important is the lack of certainty of payment to local service providers. This situation cannot be allowed to prevail. Mbombela is the capital city of Mpumalanga and we are very dependent on trade as one of our major local economic drivers. If we lose buyer / investor confidence as a result of such uncertainties it will spell doom for the local economy.
When contemplating our recommendations into the IDP, we have taken the following facts into account (as stated in your current 5-year IDP):
- Critical Strategies are not finalized and should get urgent attention: Local Economic Development Strategy; Tourism Sector Plan; Water Master Plans. It is hard to plan ahead and align private sectors vision and strategy without such critical strategies from government in place. Not only should they be finalized, but private sector should have a large input into these strategies.
- The population growth of Mbombela is extremely high, particularly relative to the stagnant economic growth. This means there are not even enough opportunities for the citizens, never mind the annual influx. The IDP should reflect the need for real opportunities and real jobs, and not so much towards making a tiny dent in social issues. We need to create rate payers!
- Roughly half of the population of Mbombela are HIV positive and affects the load on social services, more and more orphans, and their ability to be productive workers.
- Unemployment and poverty simply cannot remain a statistic on the books, we need action. Ripping the facts from the stats… 1/3 of Mbombela’s people are poor! This is already heart wrenching, but is amplified by the fact that people from neighbouring municipalities also depend on Mbombela’s social services, infrastructure and most of all – jobs. ½ of Bushbuckridge and ½ of Nkomazi’s citizens are classified as poor. A total number of poor people affecting Mbombela is 700 000! Besides the need for jobs and increase social services etc. it invariable contributes to the crime rate which is sky-rocketing according to the latest published statistics. Mpumalanga is in serious trouble and with that – Mbombela as the capital.
- Mbombela has a major problem with uncivilized road users. The result of a serious shortage of traffic officers. Traffic officers is the first step in visible policing and all kinds of crime is encouraged if they are not present. Loss of lives on our roads is unacceptable. If we need to attract investors, we need to guarantee them safety.
- More focus should be placed on potential growth sectors when the LED Strategy is finalized, i.e. agriculture, Tourism and Trade possibilities for smaller vendors and cooperatives.
- Lastly I would like to draw focus to the audit report and would like to ask all effort to be diverted to the revenue enhancement strategy. Mbombela lost vast amounts of funds as a result of Electricity losses of R67 million which is 12,7% of the supply; Debtors impairments of R122 million which is 41% of the total debts – it is double the provision for impairment and is completely unacceptable. Traffic fine debt impairment was R101 million amounting to 96% of the total debt with only R19 million provided for. If this is the consequence of people’s bad behavior on the road, combined with the lack of traffic policing, it comes at no surprise that Mbombela’s roads have become notoriously unsafe.
- The audit report also mentions large amounts of losses as a result of insufficient controls. We cannot afford the amounts of unauthorized, irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure that this Municipality has had to endure until now.
Our recommendation into the 2018/19 IDP:
- Finalise critical strategies with private sector consultation and buy-in. We will give input into these strategies and it should be supported by the IDP.
- Focus on sectors with growth potential and make it easy on investors, i.e. tourism, agriculture and small traders – private sector should team up to create real workable plans with good expected results.
- Employ as many as possible traffic officers to make up the shortfall.
- Support every effort to create visible policing, through CPF, CID and SAPS satellite offices.
- Spend every effort on the revenue enhancement strategy to limit losses of electricity, water and stop the large amount of debt write-offs.
- Implement the strictest controls to stop corruption and the waste of precious funds.
- Urgently draft a realistic and practical financial turnaround plan and share it with the public. If it is not possible to turn the finances around within a reasonable period – apply to put Mbombela under administration… Business simply cannot carry on with uncertainty about service delivery.
- We need to be super proud of our towns, clean, friendly, well-maintained roads, street lights, gardens (basic service delivery). If our people are proud of where they live, the will naturally be ambassadors to promote our towns to tourists and investors. No amount of marketing can replace pride of place.
I would like to summarise: Do not make any elaborate plans we cannot afford, focus on getting the basics right. Service delivery and running a good administration should take number one position for the next year.
I would like to include previous recommendations for when plans are made to improve the local economic conditions of the City:
- A really great craft market which has clean toilets and can be visited by tourists
- Tours of Government Buildings and artifacts should be available to visitors
- Funding should be available for LTO and RTO assistance in accordance with the RTO framework agreement.
- Push for a Provincial Tourism Strategy – we cannot develop tourism together without a provincial strategy!
- Free Wi-Fi in the city centre and at educational centres;
- Extended bus hours. If the Buscor buses run until later in the evenings, businesses in the towns can stay open later and many more people could be employed. It will also create a night life in Nelspruit, which is the most complained about issue from visitors – there is nothing to do after 9.
- All hiking trails, parks and public toilets should be cleaned, repaired and provided with security. These can be great tourist attractions but it is unsafe and not clean.
- More CID’s should be established to provide more camara-ed zones and better service delivery. This should assist pride of place and attract visitors and investors.
- The potential of township economy and township tourism should be developed.
- The commercialization of the Geotrail between Barberton and Swaziland should be a huge point of planning and discussion. Once it is declared a World Heritage Site, there will be nothing to do when visitors arrived. One toilet will not be enough to count as development of the Site. It needs to be brainstormed with the tourism industry and opportunities for businesses and vendors should be made available.
- Better recycling of water and rubbish is important. Assign a value to rubbish per kilogram. This will be a great way to clean up townships and parks. People will pick up the rubbish to earn money. It will provide some income to the unemployed and will be cheaper to fund than a structured rubbish collection route.
- Renewable energy initiatives should be implemented.
- Do no loose site of the bulk water supply needs, particularly with a fast growing population. Support all efforts to ensure the new dam South of Malalane goes ahead on schedule.
- Develop obvious tourism attractions, i.e. Legogote, Nukain Mabuza Rock Paintings, etc.
- Assist with basic marketing and information material, i.e. maps of Mbombela and support all info offices. Barberton, Nelspruit, White River.
- Prevent water losses at all costs – I still cannot see if there is a significant reduction in water losses, even after all the audits and equipment installed.
- Support “buy local” initiatives and ensure local procurement.
- Employ more traffic police
- Find a solution regarding the roaming cattle on the N4 & R40. Perhaps provide funds to mend fences of those farming areas so cattle cannot come onto the road. They are really deadly.
- Funding for chambers is a necessity.
Thank you once again, kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter.
Ms Linda Grimbeek
25 October 2017