War rooms open to provide basic services


OPEN TO DEBATE: The Ward 10 war room was declared open last Friday by district council speaker, Nonkqubela Pieters, centre, who cut the ribbon with Ward 10 councillor Raymond Schenk and Nomphulelo Nqinana of the provincial premier’s office Picture: LOUISE KNOWLES

AT a meeting of the Ward 10 war room at the civic centre last Tuesday, councillor Raymond Schenk welcomed Nomfundo Nqinana of the provincial premier’s office who prepared the war room stakeholders for the launch on Friday.

Nqinana gave stakeholders a document outlining the implementation of the new integrated service delivery model, Operation Masipathisane, which seeks to turn expert advisors into case workers, it would seem.

She said that government would issue a new document (with provincial variations) across the country for making household visits and reducing the duplication of work arising from different government departments, for example, education and social work, visiting the same home.

The war room would create ward profiles presumably based on this information, and advise the municipality of the needs of Ward 10, prioritised according to urgency.  For example, “electricity is more important than the provision of a pool,” said Nqinana.

Operation Masipathisane means “carry together” and Nqinana said the war rooms must deliver services uniformly throughout Ndlambe to be effective.

“So if a ratepayer reports a pothole and it is fixed in a week, another person who reports a lack of power should not have to wait six months.”

Schenk added that in Wards 8 and 9, 95% of households are on the sewer line, whereas 40% of Ward 10 residents are still dependent on honey suckers emptying their septic tanks.

Similarly, there should be integration between Eskom, public works (roads), water and sanitation.

“It would be a mistake to build a school without also constructing a road, which the ANC has done before,” said Nqinana.

“Burning tyres is not an effective manner to obtain needs,” she said, “but this is unlikely to happen in Ward 10.”

Operation Masipathisane is intended to ensure public and private sector participation, she said.

Overseeing the Ward 10 and other war rooms, is the municipal war room which has been elected from all the war rooms to advise the mayor.  There are 705 war rooms corresponding to 705 wards in the Eastern Province, and a district war room under the provincial premier.

At the war rom launch on Friday, businessman Rob Crothall delivered a message of support.  He said the war room does not like its adversarial name. He had a list of 30 issues to raise and a website to commend members of the municipality doing a good job.  He said service delivery was needed or there would be “unpleasant changes” in the future.

The MEC for local government was late for the meeting, but the district council speaker, Nonkqubela Pieters, stood in for him and also gave a speech before cutting the ribbon.

Pieters said the “war” was constructive not destructive, as it was a war against service delivery failure. She asked whether Ward 10 stakeholders represented the community and hoped all the people residing in Ward 10 were represented.

Schenk confirmed that the 13 or 14 people in the war room each represented different sectors of the ward through the Community Police Forum (CPF), the ratepayers, sports groups, media representatives, etc.  In addition, more representatives could be added, such as school governing bodies, at a later stage.

A stakeholder from the CPF, George Galbraith, asked whether funds would be available to deliver basic services as the municipality was “broke”.  Pieters said that the municipality would be able to apply for municipal grants requested by the war rooms.

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