How Joburg is putting its citizens first

MMC Rabelani Dagada says new administration is putting residents of our city at the centre of our plans, programmes, projects

How the City of Johannesburg is putting its citizens first

When the administration came into office in August, we promised residents of Johannesburg a caring, clean, responsive and citizen-oriented local government.

This is not just lip service, it’s a new course we have undertaken.

Putting residents of our city at the centre of our plans, programmes, projects and everything we do is what drives our agenda.

The most vulnerable in our city will particularly receive focus.

It was not a coincidence when the executive mayor announced the city’s 10-point plan that the commitment to run a responsive, pro-poor and business-friendly government featured second on the list. It signifies the leap in the new direction the city is undertaking, which both acknowledges the role of business and the need to care for the poor residents of the city.

I recently invited my colleagues, the members of the mayoral committee (MMC) for health and social development, the MMC for housing and an EFF councillor to join me as part of my roadshows to meet with the various stakeholders that define our city. Our first visit was with the people of Alexandra, Silverton and Setjwetla informal settlements. We arrived unannounced in order to experience first-hand the daily challenges that confront the residents.

Part of our visit was also to examine the customer services centre and the clinic where the residents receive services. We engaged with the residents about the services they receive, getting their inputs and suggestions. I also actively encouraged them to take full advantage of the city’s expanded social package and pensioners’ rebates programmes, which are meant to provide relief for them from the current harsh economic reality.

Not long ago, I also paid a surprise visit to the city’s call centre – which falls within the department under my portfolio as the member of the mayoral committee for finance. Part of my visit was to get first-hand experience of the city’s call centre. I took time to listen to queries from customers, inspecting the call centre infrastructure, and meeting with the management and staff operating in this section to get to the issues that might hinder them from offering the best service to the ratepayers. I also personally phoned some of our customers from the call centre to get a sense of some of their issues and complaints as well as their advice on how best we can serve them.

I must say, I was humbled by some of the ratepayers who always pay their accounts on time and in full and want to see visible service delivery in the city they love. All these interactions with the residents and employees come down to the citizens of Johannesburg having their say in how we can run a successful local government. It’s time we run local government together with residents and not risk leaving them behind.

Dr. Dagada is MMC of Finance at the City of Johannesburg. He is on Twitter: @Rabelani_Dagada

This opinion piece was first published by Sowetan.