Ladies and gentlemen
Members of the media, thank you for honouring our invitation and welcome to this media briefing.
The intention behind today's briefing is to highlight some of the progress that we have made to date in the last six months, and to map out the way forward as we move towards the election on 27 October of this year.
On 30 October 2020, I took the oath of office as the Executive Mayor of Tshwane. I took this vow fully aware of the mammoth task that was before us: To restore hope to Tshwane residents through quality service delivery.
It is worth emphasising the fact that had the Democratic Alliance (DA) not decided to take the matter regarding the City being placed under administration to court, it would still be under administration.
It was only through the Section 18(3) application that we made to the courts, which noted the urgency to implement the High Court judgement that Council be reinstated, that saw the administrators vacate their posts.
We are still waiting on the final Constitutional Court judgement which will conclude on this matter, and we expect that it will likely reaffirm the principles made by the Gauteng North High Court when it was ruled that the decision to place the City under administration was unlawful.
The City we inherited had been badly neglected by the administrators that had been appointed by the provincial government. We found that in many cases core service delivery had effectively stopped.
Furthermore, the City's finances were in a dire state that required urgent attention. The stabilisation of the City was further complicated by the broader challenges posed by COVID-19.
I think you would all agree with me that six months is not a great deal of time. Thus, in order to turn around the City we had to focus our attention on core deliverables.
We found a massive budget deficit of over R4 billion as a result of declining collection rates in the City. Collection levels had dropped to as low as 75% in some months when the administrators were in office. Recently, we managed to make significant progress in this regard and reported a 90% collection level in March 2021.
We still have a long road to travel, but stabilising the City's revenue collection is a crucial deliverable in this regard. It is also why we are pushing the implementation of prepaid electricity meters across Tshwane, as this will help to stabilise billing and provide sustained revenue.
When revenue levels are stable and consistent it is a strong affirmation of the leadership of the City.
This, in turn, helps us to strengthen our relationship with financial institutions, improve our credit ratings, access finance and direct it towards growth in Tshwane.
While working to balance the finances of the City it has been crucial to also reinitiate core service delivery.
In the six months that we have been in office, our priority focus has been on ensuring that we deliver on the City's core mandate. We embarked on this goal of quality service delivery guided by our ten-point plan which focuses on the following areas:
1. Prioritising the electrical grid and water infrastructure
2. Implementing a robust COVID-19 management strategy
3. Creating a reliable waste and refuse removal service
4. Providing stringent financial management and oversight
5. Enhancing city safety and emergency services
6. Promoting employment and economic growth in the city
7. Supporting the vulnerable and providing social relief
8. Fast-tracking development by cutting red tape
9. Applying expansive financial cost-cutting across City processes
10. Maintaining and expanding road infrastructure
On a day-to-day basis, the City has basic operations which it cannot compromise on. This involves various activities, among which are responding speedily to electrical outages and water leaks, repairing potholes, cutting grass, clearing illegal dumping, repairing traffic lights and responding to downed traffic signals.
This became our core focus through weekly tracking so that we could ensure that we responded adequately to customer complaints and provided visible service delivery to our residents.
In our short time in office, we have cut over 55 million square metres of grass and repaired over 13 000 potholes.
We have also repaired more than 82 000 street lights. Further to that we have mapped out the street lights across Tshwane and we continuously track illumination levels.
We are also working continuously to increase the response times to electricity failures.
Our water and sewerage teams have also been focused and strategic in their efforts to repair the water infrastructure. To date, over 11 000 sewers have been unblocked and over 20 000 water leaks have been repaired.
If we fix electrical infrastructure, we reduce financial losses. The same is true for water infrastructure, as the revenue lost as a result of water leaks is significant.
Strategic priorities and highlights
We have also made significant strides in dealing with high-level strategic matters.
The first phase of the multi-year project to upgrade the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Works is on track and the overall progress is at 48%, with the contractor expecting to be more than 50% done by the end of this financial year.
The Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Works is the biggest water treatment plant in Tshwane and purifies 45% of Tshwane's waste water. It will remain in operation during the upgrade project.
This second phase is due to start in the 2021/22 financial year and will provide an additional 80 megalitres of treatment capacity per day to facilitate new developments in its catchment area for the next 20 to 30 years.
I am also pleased to announce that the Baviaanspoort Waste Water Treatment Works project is 88% complete and is on track for completion.
This R41 million project will restore the additional treatment capacity needed for the plant to ensure that the treated effluent released into the Pienaars River complies with national standards. This will stop further pollution of the Pienaars River and the Roodeplaat Dam downstream.
Six months ago I announced the introduction of a Development Application Management System (DAMS) which will assist in electronically managing certain city planning and land development applications. That system is now live and already taking applications. We intend to communicate further on its functionality in future.
Moving to roads and transport, we are very excited in extending A Re Yeng operations, with the planned launch of the Line 2B route from the Pretoria CBD to Menlyn. We anticipate that the route will be operational by the end of this month.
We have also prioritised interventions pertaining to Wonderboom National Airport. The capital city must have a commercially viable and well administrated airport. Through continued engagements with Airports Company South Africa we are plotting the way forward for the airport.
Our Tswelopele Clean-up Campaigns have also taken us to various parts of Tshwane where we have partnered with local communities and organisations to clean their neighbourhoods. Just this past week I was in Olievenhoutbosch with MoveOneMillion.
We will continue to roll out these campaigns monthly and well into the future.
Moving to matters of security and safety, I remain committed to seeing through the launch of the first dedicated Inner City Policing Unit in a major metropolitan city in the country.
We have secured a site for a satellite Tshwane Metro Police Department station, which will be based in the Pretoria CBD and be supported by 100 Tshwane Metro Police Department officers. We will soon give more detail when we launch this initiative.
The City of Tshwane COVID-19 Ward-based Outreach Campaign team continues to visit regions as part of its weekly screening and testing of community members in areas identified as COVID-19 hotspots.
These visits are informed by a data-driven and analytics approach, which directs resources to ensure that we respond to problematic areas as they arise.
Our recent tracking indicates that Tshwane is witnessing sustained increases in active cases, which is being witnessed across the country as well. We have seen the number of active cases in the city almost doubling from a week ago.
We remain cautious and mindful of the possibility of a full-blown third wave. We are also working closely with the Gauteng provincial government in terms of the vaccination roll-out and planning to provide whatever support is needed.
Before the City was placed under administration, there were a number of months where Council as a governance structure was not functioning properly. I am pleased to note that in the last six months, all of the City's Council meetings have convened properly and deliberated carefully on reports.
We have had robust debates on items and collectively the political parties in Tshwane are working together to make sure that Council functions and delivers on its legislative duties.
We also continue to use hybrid meetings for Council where a limited number of councillors are present in the chamber while the larger majority connect online via Microsoft Teams.
This has ensured that the work of Council is not hampered by the impact of COVID-19. We have come a long way indeed and we are grateful that Council has been functional so far.
Elections in October 2021
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the local government elections will take place on Wednesday, 27 October 2021.
This will be the sixth time under South Africa's democratic dispensation that voters will elect leadership and public representatives at metropolitan, district and local level.
The DA-led administration welcomes this announcement and echoes the call for all eligible residents to check their registration status.
Between now and the elections, my core focus will be on ensuring stability in the City and guiding the administration towards the elections.
Next week, on 20 May 2021, I will deliver the Budget Speech for the City. The following week, Council will vote on the budget for the next financial year. This is another crucial element in restoring stability in the City.
In contrast to last year where the budget was largely inaccessible and approved well out of the required legislated timelines, this year we have prioritised trying to drive robust engagement on the budget through as many platforms as possible.
Local government must be inclusive and must be accessible, which is what I have sought to emphasise over the last few months.
It is crucial that we restore hope to the residents of Tshwane and demonstrate to them that we are committed towards prioritising their needs. We must rebuild trust across the city.
I thank you.
I will now take any questions that you might have.