Speech delivered by Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town today, 29 January 2020, during a full sitting of Council.
Good morning speaker, councillors, city officials, members of the public, and media, welcome to 2020. I trust you have had some time to rest and be with your friends and families over the festive season and that we are all back here today, fully rejuvenated and ready for the year ahead. May this year be a prosperous and kind year, and let us all commit ourselves to ensuring that our residents get to enjoy the best service delivery in the country.
Before we get to today’s business, I want to take a moment to commend our Safety and Security Services for all their hard work over the festive season. To the Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, and Executive Director, Richard Bosman and his team, thank you for pulling out all the stops to ensure our residents and visitors enjoyed a safe and fun festive season.
I also want to thank our tourism partners and the hospitality sector for all the hard work that they have put in over the festive season. Job creation is critical for any growing economy and this is one of the sectors with so much potential to keep growing.
Speaker, today I table the adjustment budget, and I would just like to commend our staff for how hard they have worked within increasing compliance requirements. The proposed adjustment budget will see an operating budget of R42bn and a capital budget of R7.87bn. We have managed the highest capital spend in 10 years – 30% more than the same period last year. The Deputy Mayor, who also serves as the Mayoral Committee Member for Finance, will be speaking on the adjustment budget in detail later today.
I am happy to announce that the City has received its 16th unqualified audit report for the 2018/2019 financial year.
The 2018/19 audit report was received by the City administration on 28 January 2020. It is unfortunate that the audit report had to be circulated at this late stage even though it is only for noting at this particular stage prior to the annual report entering the legislative oversight process. The Auditor-General informed the Speaker of Council of the late submission of the report and highlighted that the reason for the late submission is that there was still consideration of direction to be received from National Treasury on a particular audit finding.
The response from National Treasury was eventually received and the Auditor-General was able to conclude on their audit report this week.
The audit report is significant to our City and fair representation of the financial statements and the pre-determined objectives are important to our residents, investors and all other stakeholders.
I am also happy to announce that the City has received a clean bill of health for financial sustainability and on top of that it has been reported that our pre-determined objectives are evidence-based and that we and all stakeholders can rely on the actual outcomes recorded against the targets that are a true reflection of us achieving our IDP goals.
I must, however, add that I have noted the auditor’s concern regarding irregular expenditure and the recording of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. I have engaged extensively with the Auditor -General in this regard and in addition the administration. My expectation from the administration is that we should never record irregular, and wasteful and fruitless expenditure and that we must comply with our legislation. I am more than comfortable that the administration will develop an action plan that will help us achieve this expectation.
We will also resolve today that all irregular, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure recorded by the Audito-General will be referred to our Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) to be investigated for recoverability. Our MPAC is an oversight committee we have relied upon to undertake an oversight function and they have religiously done so in the past. They will report back to us on their findings.
We work hard in the City of Cape Town to put measures in place that make this an enabling environment, and one that is attractive to do business in. That old saying ‘it takes two to tango’ comes to mind. Because while we can put these measures in place, such as the business hub walk-in centre in the Strand Street Concourse, and having a dedicated team to focus on bringing new flights to Cape Town through the Air Access team at our partner Wesgro, as well as the many other support incentives we have in place, none of this would matter if we didn’t have an industry that wanted to thrive, that wanted to provide the best experience for our visitors, and that strives for excellence.
So it was very welcome news when I was informed that in total,
10, 9 million passenger arrivals and departures were recorded by Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) in 2019, representing a year-on-year increase of about 2% when compared to 2018.
For the festive season, which started in December 2019 and runs up until March 2020, we expect, based on actual flight reservations, almost 50 000 travellers to arrive from the UK alone, demonstrating an increase of 30% when compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, Germany shows a 20% increase and the USA 11%.
I want to say thank you to all those in the tourism and hospitality sector – the hotel managers, the tour operators, the waiters, barmen and bar-ladies, coffee baristas, the cleaning staff, the tour guides, retail staff and everyone else involved for seeing to it that our tourism numbers saw an improvement over the festive season while the rest of the country, unfortunately, took a knock. This is what making progress possible, together, looks like. It means growth, and if we are going to start the year on such a positive note I am excited to see what the rest of 2020 has in store for us.
It is unfortunate that once again, the national government has neglected their duties and despite numerous attempts to by the City of Cape Town, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Home Affairs have yet to address the refugee situation at Green Market Square. The City of Cape Town’s ability to act in this regard is limited. We have already offered voluntary reintegration for the refugees, but this was refused. There has been no reported xenophobia in Cape Town as was experienced in the rest of the country last year and which prompted refugees in other parts of the country to protest outside the offices of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).
While we continue to strive towards delivering the best services for our residents, and we know that there is always more we can do, I was thankful to read in recent news that according to the South African Customer Satisfaction Index, out of the whole country the City of Cape Town was rated as the municipality with the most satisfied citizens.
35 000 consumers across the country were interviewed, and reports stated that with a score of 64.1, the City of Cape Town was ‘well ahead of all other metros polled – with a definitive 10.1 index point score above the average satisfaction score of 54 and leading well ahead of all other Metros.’
I am proud and grateful that our residents have rated us so the highest in the country, but I want to say that I know we are not perfect. I know there are still areas that we need to brush up on and we are working non-stop to do better where we know there is room for improvement. Please continue to work with us to make this the best run City in the country, we can’t do it without you.
And this brings me to my next point – while we have much to celebrate, there is also much misleading of the public by those with malicious intentions. For example, those who don’t want to hear that we have spent 96.5% of the Urban Sustainability Development Grant (USDG) funding allocated to us.
This funding is utilised for among others, increasing the number of basic interim services, access to public and social-economic activities, increasing the number of serviced sites, providing individual connections and increasing the land provision for informal settlement upgrading, subsidised housing or mixed-use developments. Some of these projects take place over multiple years so the funds allocated need to be rolled over so they can be spent at the right time on the projects. We have also been efficient in our spending, so at times there were savings, which meant we could repay the savings to National Treasury for re-allocation. Of the R1,48 billion in USDG funding we have rolled over 4% to be spent on these projects in subsequent years and this was approved by National Treasury.
2020 will be the year that our partnership with the Western Cape Government will see the biggest ever roll out of law enforcement officers in this City thanks to the Premier’s Safety Plan. I have worked closely with Premier Alan Winde for many years and we both understand the critical importance of making sure our residents feel safe and that the criminals on the street will get caught and put in jail. While we do not control the other levels in the criminal justice system we will play our part and continue to work with the other partners to make sure we all do our part.
Every day of the year the City of Cape Town spends millions of rand on rendering much-needed services to our citizens with a special focus on our poorer areas and I am proud to say that we do it better than any other city in South Africa.
Despite this, there are some areas in our city that require even greater focus. According to the annual crime statistics some of these communities have the highest violent crime rates in Cape Town. While we do not control the SAPS we can play a role to ensure that better facilities are provided which can help to ensure a better quality of life.
These areas include: Nyanga, Gugulethu, Khayeleitisha, Philippi East, Delft, Kraaifontein, Mitchells Plain, Mfuleni, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Ottery, Grassy Park, Lavender Hill, Uitsig.
To address the more specific needs of these communities, I have created a Working Group to drive the focused and coordinated delivery of more than 70 projects in these areas. The Working Group will consist of a Political Steercom chaired by myself, an Executive Steercom consisting of a number of Executive Directors and Advisory Staff, a Coordinator from my Office and a Programme Management Office staffed with both fulltime and seconded staff.
My intention is to drive the delivery of these projects in a similar manner to the way we drove the delivery of the 2010 World Soccer Cup. To that end, we are in discussions with some of the staff that were involved at the time of delivery during that successful event and the massive stadium that was delivered on time.
The projects we are focussing on will consist of:
• 42 projects, already budgeted for and currently being implemented in the identified areas by line directorates, but which will now be receiving much greater attention and the necessary assistance to ensure there are no delays.
• 19 precinct level projects where the MURP methodology will be implemented to ensure safer and cleaner areas.
These areas are:
· Nyanga Urban Node (NUNU), Bellville public transport interchange (PTI)/CBD, Nolungile PTI, Mitchells Plain Town Centre, Phillipi East, Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Wynberg PTI, Goodwood CBD, Nonqubela PTI, Parow CBD/Station Arcade, Durbanville CBD, Kraaifontein, Harare, Lotus Park, Monwabisi Park, Kuilsriver. Cape Town CBD.
Community Level Regeneration Projects in:
· Nyanga – Forecourt and Xolani Centre, Nyanga Library, NMT Upgrading, Health Facility, Informal Trader Infrastructure
· Bishop Lavis – Integrated Recreation Centre, Precinct Management, Wellness Centre, New Boulevard, Town Centre Upgrade, Civic Cluster
· Bonteheuwel – Upgrading of Town Centre, Upgrading of Existing Building and establishment of a hub for entrepreneurs and youth, Creation of destination through landscaping, gateways and creative fencing options
· Hanover Park – Library / Civic Centre, NMT Upgrading, Pool / Community Centre, Youth Centre, CRU Programme, Public Facility Upgrades, Public Square / Trader Upgrades
· Manenberg – New Library, Turfhall Road Link, Youth Centre, CRU Programme, Public Facility Upgrades
I have also decided to include a Metropolitan Level (legacy) project into the terms of reference of the Working Group, namely the Bellville CBD area with the Bellville PTI at its centre. For the past number of years, we have been talking about the development of this area which has the potential to become the second City of Cape Town (potentially 45 000 houses and massive retail space), but we haven’t made much progress. This is going to change.
The immediate focus will be on stabilising the PTI and CBD precinct with a view to improving safety and cleaning the area up.
This is about getting the basics right and to do this the focus will be on day to day service delivery.
For these projects to work, we will need to work closely with all our residents, commuters, the formal and informal business community, property owners and investors, CIDs and other spheres of government too.
It is clear that if we want to get different results, we need to do things differently. Today, I am calling on all the members of this Council, our officials and our community to make this city-wide initiative a success. It is good for all our people – irrespective of which party they support.