By Mzukona Mantshontsho
Residents cannot remain passive recipients when we talk development –
“When we look at development in Diepsloot township, we must also include the quality of life of the residents”. These were the words of the City of Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau in Diepsloot yesterday at the service delivery Imbizo to mark 20 years of the existence of Diepsloot coinciding with 20 years of democracy in South Africa.
Accompanied by MMC’s for Housing Dan Mbovu, Community Development Chris Vondo, Health & Social Development Nonceba Molwele, Development Planning Rosylyn Greeff, and Economic Development Ruby Mathang, Mayor Tau went on a tour through Diepsloot to see the developments that have been achieved over the last 20 years and answer to some of the challenges still faced by the community.
A township in the North of Johannesburg located in Region A with an estimated population of 350,000 people, demarcated into wards 95 and 113, with 8 informal and formal settlements, is nothing like it was in 1994 when it had an original layout plan of 1,324 residential sites. The census in 2001 was at 49,725 people with around 200,000 in 2011.
Much like the State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma on Thursday 13 February 2014 in parliament, the Diepsloot Imbizo, celebrated the upgrade of gravel roads, the conversion of open storm-water channels into sub-surface drainage pipes, a green gym in the township, the upgrade of the taxi rank, the delivery of a R70million new school and less on the issues of child deaths recently reported in the township, the high levels of influx of people from all walks of life resulting in over-crowding, illegal dumping, potholes on the roads, poverty and high levels of unemployment.
Mayor Tau echoed the words of President Zuma that Diepsloot was a perfect example of the service delivery protests being about the provision of services making those few who have not received services toyi-toying in the street in frustration that they cannot wait another day without these services.
Mayor Tau did not miss the opportunity to remind the residents of the Go Jozi healthy lifestyle initiative. The City embarked on the second phase of Go Jozi initiative to all regions of the City to promote healthy eating, education and active living.The second phase of the initiative kicked off on Saturday 12 October 013 at Market Street between South and K101 Road in Midrand following theHealthy Lifestyle Initiativelaunched by Mayor Tau on 4 May 2013 at Thokoza Park, Soweto with the slogan: “We are all players”, an initiative seeking to tackle the risk factors associated with obesity, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
Mayor Tau encouraged Diepsloot residents to eat well and exercise regularly to maintain physical fitness and mental health. Residents were also encouraged to practice good hygiene and avoid health hazards such as smoking and drinking to prevent getting ill health. The healthy lifestyle habits like doing exercise and eating correctly from an early age are basics to preventing diseases like diabetes, hypertension and other chronic illness in adulthood. According to the World Health Organisation, “the health and welfare, present and future, of children of school age are greatly conditioned by the kind of food provided and by maintaining a healthy weight”.
By 2040, the City of Johannesburg aims to achieve substantially enhanced quality of life for all. It envisages development initiatives that enable self-sustainability, improved health and life expectancy.
The idea of the Corridors of Freedom came from the City’s record budget of over R40 billion for the 2013/14 financial year. Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance, Geoffrey Makhubo, delivering the budget said: “Johannesburg is the first municipality in South Africa to present a multi-year capital budget of R30.1 billion. The self-funding part of this Budget will grow to above 65% from a current average of 39%”.
The City was able to achieve this despite the challenging global and regional economic environment. Finances continued to strengthen, bolstered by sound financial strategies and forward thinking by the city. The COJ’s achievement could be attributed to effective financial management and sound planning of our operations. Within the City of Johannesburg there is a strong commitment to prudent financial management at all levels; ensuring tightened controls, strengthened policies and procedures and the attainment of a clean audit.
The budget followed on the Thursday 9 May 2013 State of the City Address by the Executive Mayor, Councillor Mpho Parks Tau. In this he made major announcements on the City’s intention to reshape its urban form, make a decisive break with apartheid spatial planning and construct a future based on equity, accessibility and sound economic principles.
These corridors will be developed to support inclusive, high-density, mixed-use developments to reduce commuting times and costs. The COJ would be consulting with residents to finalise the nodes of the Corridors of Freedom with focus on the medium term being Soweto to the CBD (along Pert Empire); CBD to Alexandra; Alexandra to Sandton; Turfontein node and the mining belt. The most efficient urban form is compact, mixed land use with extensive public transport network that includes high intensity movement corridors and with attractive environments for walking and cycling.
The focus is on crime prevention operations targeted at violent crime in particular and the continued roll out of the JMPD 10Plus initiative – the JMPD 10Plus initiative being a community based policing initiative which will see the deployment of at least 10 JMPD officers in each of the COJ’s 130 wards. Multi-disciplinary City teams would be moving into the wards to start with the implementation and reporting incidences of urban decay such as potholes, water leaks, faulty traffic signals, illegal dumping and derelict buildings.
Residents were given a chance to engage the Mayor by voicing their concerns and get feedback and by writing down their questions and the COJ to get back to them.
Residents were promised feedback as soon as possible. We await feedback.
Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Councillor Mpho Franklin Parks Tau at the service delivery Imbizo in Diepsloot township on Tuesday 18 February 2014