Index Premier Masualle makes maiden Exco Outreach to Sarah Baartman District Municipality
Date Added: 21 April 2015

Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masualle, recently led his Executive Council (Exco) on an outreach programme to the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, which took place between 15 and 17 April.

The Premier himself visited Somerset East and Cookhouse, in the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality, and Humansdorp in the Kouga Local Municipality, where he met with local residents and stakeholders, while several members of his cabinet, together with Sarah Baartman District Municipality Portfolio Councillors, visited communities in Alicedale, in the Makana Local Municipality; Jansenville, in the Ikwezi Local Municipality; Moses Mabida, in the Sundays River Valley Local Municipality, and Uitkyk, in the Koukamma Local Municipality.

He said that the purpose of the event was about the monitoring the various issues raised by community members during the last outreach held in the Makana Local Municipality in 2013, and that it is within government’s responsibility to respond to the matters at hand.

“As government, we want to work in partnership with the communities. We are here to assess the impact of government projects and to establish how exactly you feel about the things we are doing,” the Premier told residents at the Somerset East Youth Centre during a community engagement session.

Accompanying Premier Masualle at the Somerset East outreach was the Executive Mayor of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana; Speaker of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Deon de Vos; MEC for Human Settlements, Helen Sauls-August; MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula; MEC for Health, Pumza Dyantyi; Blue Crane Route Local Municipality Mayor, Marjorie Scott, as well as stakeholders and municipal officials.

Premier Masualle said that priority had been given to the Sarah Baartman District Municipality during the programme’s planning, and that the decision was mainly due to fulfilling the promises made at the previous Exco Outreach.

“The way people experience their lives requires particular responses which you cannot change or question. It therefore needs continues interaction so that we can hear what their concerns are and how we can respond programmatically to these issues facing our communities,” he said.

Residents were also afforded the opportunity to raise their issues, which centred on access to education, health, high unemployment and other challenges they faced.

Addressing a fully packed Humansdorp Community Hall on April 17, Premier Masualle said that it is important that many communities be able to reap benefits from the Exco Outreach, and to take advantage from the services presented by government.

“We did so with the understanding that none of us do anything that is not ours. All we do is in the interest in the people because that is what you asked us to do,” he said.

At this event, he was accompanied by Executive Mayor Kekana, MEC’s Sauls-August and Makupula, as well as Kouga Local Municipality Mayor, Booi Koeraat.

Premier Masualle stated that the outreach also came about after detractors had unfairly blamed government for going back on their word and failing to help communities, adding that the outreach also served as confirmation that the right measures discussed were being implemented.

“Where there are shortcomings, be at a municipal, district, provincial or national level, events like this helps us to attend to those problems where they manifest so that we can ensure that our people receive the best quality of services they receive from our government.”

With the event falling in line with the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, Masualle said that government has the responsibility to deliver to the people with the ultimate goal of making the country, district and municipality a better for all “as we move the country forward”.

As with the session in Somerset East, Humansdorp resident were also given the opportunity to raise their plights with the biggest being unemployment, health concerns, infrastructure delays and lack of proper housing.

Among the key concerns raised by residents was insufficient transport for learners to and from school.

MEC Makupula acknowledged that the current transport arrangement catered for just more than 5 200 learners whilst more than 6 000 learners were in need of transport to and from their schools.

MEC Sauls-August addressed questions around RDP housing in the Kouga area and said that more homes would be built this year. She said that a lack of bulk infrastructure had delayed the building of houses but that this was being addressed through additional funding secured for Kouga through her department.

The MEC gave residents the assurance that the beneficiary lists of projects would be carefully managed and that Council would be expected to sign off on all beneficiary lists.

“Priority will be given to senior citizens and only I, as the MEC, will deal with prioritisation in order to root out any possible attempts at corruption,” she said.

The Premier assured residents that all comments and queries had been recorded during the outreach and that feedback would be given once all matters had been investigated.