Grahamstown. Picture: WIKIMEDIA
Grahamstown. Picture: WIKIMEDIA

Mpumelelo Ncwadi made some excellent points in his letter (Grahamstown is in a shambles, May 23). However, it is not strictly accurate to say the "provincial executive committee has taken over administration of the municipality". What has happened is that an experienced acting municipal manager, Ted Pillay, has been deployed there from Sarah Baartman District Municipality, and Makana Local Municipality is on a list that national government is prioritising.

Some changes have taken concerted pressure by civil society.

Pillay’s deployment was the result of sustained pressure by the Concerned Citizens Committee to Save Makana, a coalition the association supported. The Grahamstown Residents’ Association (GRA) also lobbied provincial government to rehabilitate major roads through our city that belong to the province. One of those roads is currently being resurfaced. Meanwhile, members of the business community have been mobilising funding to fix other roads.

We have also supported a project called MobiSAM that aids residents in reporting service delivery problems.

On May 4 2018, GRA, business, and various other civil society elements met a large delegation from national and provincial government, including Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize, and technical experts in water and sanitation.

We believe this signifies that government is getting serious about service delivery. However, we take nothing for granted and continue to build our organisation and strategic coalitions so we can maintain a balance between vigilant criticism and helpful suggestions.

There are still major problems to overcome — unsustainable cash flow, glitches in water supply, a huge backlog in maintenance and infrastructure upgrades, and gaps in expertise to name just some. However, Grahamstown and its Makana municipality have enormous potential and impressive skills to call on; compared with other failing municipalities, this is a recoverable situation.

A lesson we would like to share with the rest of the country is that concerted effort by all elements of civil society can make a difference and that offering solutions is a better way to pressure government to deliver than complaining.

Those who visit Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival in July will find a city getting back on its feet. We still have a way to go, but we are getting there.

Philip Machanick
Chair, Grahamstown Residents’ Association

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