Communicating with the community, holding regular mayoral meetings, and listening to the concerns of residents are some of the factors that make the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality a successful one.
This is according to Steve Tshwete Local Municipality Mayor Mike Masina, who shared his success story with delegates at the Presidential Local Government Summit.
He explained that the municipality had to get the basics right and that is why it is among the best performing municipalities.
The municipality is situated in the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga Province and covers a geographic area of 3 993 km². It is made up of 29 wards with 64 971 households.
Since 2006, the municipality has won 15 awards. The awards include the 2012/13 Clean Audit Award, 2011/12 Clean Audit Award, 2010/11 Clean Audit Award, 2009/10 Mpumalanga Greenest Municipality Champions and 2009 South African Local Government Association Clean Audit Award.
Mayor Masina said the municipality had developed a clear communication strategy to keep residents informed about its plans and challenges.
“We have a good working relationship with local print and electronic media. I have a column in the Middleburg Observer, a local newspaper, where I inform the community about our plans, on a weekly basis,” he said.
According to Mayor Masina, communicating with residents lies at the centre of avoiding possible conflicts and service delivery protests.
“If you keep the residents informed about your plans, you are already addressing the possibility of them protesting because they know what is on the plans of the municipality.”
He added that the municipality has a radio slot on Middelburg FM where executives speak about programmes and challenges of the municipality, and receive feedback from residents.
Another communication platform used by the municipality is an SMS line. The line is used to inform residents about any urgent announcements, including power and water outages.
Mayor Masina said the municipality also held regular mayoral meetings, where each department reported on successes and challenges they experienced.
The Mayor also highlighted that at Steve Tshwete Local Municipality the roles and responsibilities of the role players and managers were clearly defined.
“What we got right is to define our roles and responsibilities for all political office bearers and our administrators.
“As the mayor, I have my roles and responsibilities clearly defined, so do the administrators and the Speaker. Everybody knows what they are expected to do.”
Mayor Masina believes that if other municipalities communicate with their residents, hire people with the right skills and qualifications, and if political office bearers stop interfering in the running of the municipality, local government would move in the right direction and make a difference in the lives of the residents.