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Mayor Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa:
Tshwane - Africa’s capital city of excellence
prospering in a safe and healthy environment

Until 1994 and the advent of democracy in South Africa, institutionalised racism confined black people to an arid 13 per cent of the landscape, barring them from living in towns and cities. Considered personae non grata in suburbia, they were only welcome as cheap labour housed on the periphery with, in the main, no running water, electricity, sanitation or sewerage systems. This is basically what apartheid was.

Pursuant to a non-racial South Africa, between 1994 and 2000 the government dismantled the apartheid framework, leading to an amalgamation, through democratic local government elections in 2000, of the former black, and infrastructurally depressed areas with the neighbouring previously exclusively white, and privileged, towns and cities.
In the South African context, then, besides indicators such as economic sustainability; excellent transportation, good housing, a variety of retail industries, a liveable city must contribute to nation building and reconciliation.

In the case of the City of Tshwane, of which I had the honour of being elected Executive Mayor when a new system of democratic local government was introduced, reconciliation is particularly important since Pretoria, now one part of the new city, symbolised human rights abuses when it was the capital. A pariah in world diplomacy, it was shunned by the world. An important part of our mission was therefore to build a city with a common vision, rather than a racial one. Our corporate vision states that we are a “leading international African capital city of excellence that empowers the community to prosper in a safe and healthy environment”.

Tshwane was born of 13 municipalities, 11 of them technically insolvent. Two economies, one largely informal and black, the other formal and town-based, characterised it. Backlogs in housing, water, electricity, sanitation and roads dominated the black areas while the towns were generally well off. It was thus important, from the outset, to address the seemingly self-contradictory challenge of providing basic services in black townships while maintaining and improving the First World infrastructure in towns.

This we approached through public participation in the formulation of integrated development plans, which are strategies to determine priorities consultatively. We also introduced public budgeting processes, meaning transparent allocations of resources to priorities, first among which are housing and related infrastructures such as clean water, sanitation and electricity. Accordingly, over the past five years we have secured 65,000 homes for households earning below R3,500 a month, with a further 9,000 more houses to be built this year. For rental stock we have already constructed 314 units out of an eventual 1,462 for the year.

Along with housing, in order to ensure an enhanced quality of life through recreational facilities, we have over the past five years spent R44 million on sports infrastructure; developed 57 new parks; planted 41,000 trees; upgraded 23 swimming pools; and implemented Integrated Environmental Management Plans at three nature reserves, emphasising eco-tourism.
In our experience these are oft-ignored elements of a good quality of life in a city, as William Wordsworth’s reminds us of humankind’s destruction of the environment in his poem, The World is Too Much with Us -

Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.

Our commitment to sustainable development was demonstrated by our being among the first municipalities worldwide to hold local sustainable development summits following the WSSD. We have also been successful in Livcom competitions, taking second spot in Category E in 2004, despite which we were, however, presented with a Gold instead of a Silver Award because of the high standard of our presentation; our commendable environmentally sensitive practices; enhancement of landscape initiatives; cultural and historical management programmes; community participation initiatives and planning of future strategies.

Our point of departure, given the degrading circumstances to which our people were once subjected, is that a liveable city, and therefore a good quality of life, begins with clean running water – which is life – and sanitation, which is dignity. In the past year, in a development that mirrors previous years, our focus has been on the north of our city, where communities suffered from water backlogs. Through a R530 million water supply scheme, seventeen villages, 88,500 households, will benefit. By 2010 the whole city will have sanitation.

Our provision of water and sanitation should be understood against the policy of providing all households with free basic amounts thereof, with the totally destitute receiving theirs completely free of charge.
The contribution of water and sanitation to making Tshwane a liveable city cannot be underestimated, particularly when side benefits like home entrepreneurship and health considerations are taken into account, especially when communities are battling with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, among other challenges.

Also critical to our building a liveable city has been the rollout of electricity to communities that previously used coal, paraffin and wood, all of which compromised the environment. By year-end all households in Tshwane will be connected to the electricity grid, with all receiving their free basic quotas.
It is particularly in the developing world’s context, where some communities are decimated by hunger and/or illness – both of which can be arrested through water and electricity provision – that a need exists for free basic quotas, or free total amounts, of these necessities. Alternatives are generally sick populations, high medical expenses, high mortality, and economic stagnation that begin the vicious cycle all over again.
We have found the innovation of free quotas critically important, overall, for local economic development.

Our commitment to the well being of our people is highlighted by our investment in healthcare, with an average 75,000 people a month receiving free primary care; voluntary HIV/AIDS counselling and testing; and prevention of mother to child transmission. A city that skimps on health expenditure loses by far in other areas.

But although we trumpet our achievements in basic services provision, we are dissatisfied with the crime rate in Tshwane, despite the fact that since 1994 there has been a 13% decrease. While we applaud the decrease in murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, we remain concerned about increases in rape and indecent assault, vehicle hijacking and petty crime.

To stem the incidence of crime we have installed CCTV cameras throughout the CBD, which resulted in a sharp decline. Consequently, we are installing them citywide. We have found that awareness of these cameras deters would-be criminals while reassuring residents and businesses about their safety. That is a liveable city.

The interventions catalogued are a product of consultation, which is at the core of our practice as a developmental municipality. Accordingly, democracy informs our interaction with our communities, as evidenced by our institution of 76 ward committees, our convention of regular public meetings, and our introduction of Community Development Workers to ensure face-to-face, area-to-area interaction between residents and us.

Evidence of our financial management success is that where we started with no credit rating due to logistics of merging 13 previously disparate administrations, by 2003 we had achieved enough stability for an A rating, followed by our current bankable municipality status with A+ long-term, and A1 short-term, ratings.

We relied on consultation not only to identify people’s needs but also to mobilise residents to pay for services. At the height of apartheid, non-payment for the meagre services available had been the weapon of choice in a non-violent struggle.

We understood, too, the centrality of education, research and industry in economic development. Tshwane hosts the largest number of research and educational institutions in Africa. It is home to the biggest car-building industry on the continent, and to a number of world names in technology, including ICT. To retain their current investment and encourage more, we established an advisory committee of decision-makers from those and other sectors to secure, firsthand, their expectations. We also hold regular sector and institution-specific consultations.

Through specific interventions responding to those sectors, we have made Tshwane a leading city in terms of education and economic growth. From our population of 2.8million, 38.8% of the over-20s have tertiary qualifications compared with South African cities’ 23% average. Our economy grew 4.6% annually during 2001-2004, propelled mainly by the automotive sector, compared with Gauteng’s 3.9% and the country’s 2.9%.

Partly explaining this is our focus on research to promote technological advancement, as is evident, among other things, from our support for initiatives such as the Innovation Hub, the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) and the Automotive Supplier Park (ASP). The Innovation Hub is a clustering of high-tech businesses to foster innovation and drive new intellectual property development. AIDC offers world-class services for automotive design, testing, research and development, and HRD. The ASP is a pioneering concept grouping different technologies, suppliers and service providers with automotive manufacturers to achieve optimal production through economies of scale.

Our focus on the automotive industry is not accidental. The industry, being the largest manufacturing and third largest economic sector in the country, is critically strategic to us, since the automotive cluster in Tshwane accounts for approximately 35% of vehicles manufactured in South Africa.
Our impressive (for South Africa) economic growth translates into employment for our residents. Our 18.93% unemployment rate is the lowest of major cities in South Africa. This contributes significantly to the alleviation of poverty.

Our economic excellence is also ascribable to our skills base, itself a product of the network of leading educational and research institutions. Four national universities and the Africa Institute of South Africa, the National Research Foundation, the Human Sciences Research Council, the Agricultural Research Council, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the South African Bureau of Standards are some of the intellectual resources located in the city.

Furthermore, there are the Pretoria Academic Hospital, the Heart Hospital and the Eye Institute. In fact, the amount of research undertaken and the intellectual capital in Tshwane is overwhelming. Where these institutions previously existed as mere tenants in Tshwane, our administration utilises them as think tanks.

Our competitive advantage is evident, too, from our hosting the second biggest concentration of embassies internationally, and all 37 national government departments. More than most cities in the world, therefore, we mirror not only our country, but also our continent and the world.

We have received some recognition for our work. Among others, we have had awards from the Public Management Review magazine for “Most Proactive Executive Mayor in Gauteng” and corporate governance, doing the most to attract tourists, and doing the most for social development and local investment.

In conjunction with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), which we latterly chaired, and with the Cities of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, from 15 to 18 May 2005 we hosted the Founding Congress of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA). In this we invested our own resources, with sponsors as supportive funders only. We thus demonstrated the importance of investing in our own and continental local government to build liveable cities.

We also hold the joint Presidency of the world municipal association, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). Participation in international structures has led to economically beneficial networking enhancing our mission to make Tshwane liveable, a mission best encapsulated by our City Development Strategy, which envisions Tshwane in the immediate, medium and long terms.

In its creation of another business and residential district out of the previously economically depressed north of the city, the strategy increases the liveable, qualitatively speaking, area of the city. We are accordingly redirecting investment from less needy to more needy areas, thus avoiding stress on infrastructure in already over occupied parts.

Going forward, our objectives are encapsulated in our budget, which provides for electricity for 8,000 households, 8,200m water pipelines, 14,168m sewer networks, re-gravelling 576kms, 10,000 sites, 20,000 houses, and mother-to-child transmission prevention at 73% of the antenatal clinics.

We see all these things contributing to making Tshwane a liveable city.
In closing, we submit that the interventions sketched in this essay have created and are creating an inclusive city of racial tolerance and reconciliation.

Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Executive Mayor of Tshwane

Introducing Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Mayor of Tshwane
The Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa was born in Barberton, Mpumalanga Province. He matriculated at Pax College, Pietersburg, Northern Province. He attained a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and Masters in Theology from the University of Leuven, Belgium.

The Priest
Father Mkhatshwa also studied for the Catholic Priesthood at St Peter`s Seminary in KwaZulu Natal and Pretoria and was ordained a Catholic Priest.

The Politician
South Africa bears the imprints and birthmarks of its own past, capitalism, colonialism, parasitism, racism, human rights denial, to name a few.

Father Mkhatshwa fought against all the above apartheid sins, for full democracy, single victory and a clear revolution in line with the history of the African National Congress, until the liberation was achieved in 1994. During the liberation struggle, he was arrested, detained, tortured and denied freedom of speech.

Father Mkhatshwa is a member of South Africa’s governing party the African National Congress (ANC). He is a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress. He joined the African National Congress after its ban was lifted. He was elected to Parliament as an ANC MP in 1994 and also elected Chairperson of Committees in the National Assembly from 1994 to 1996. Father Mkhatshwa was appointed a Deputy Minister of Education in 1996, a position, which he retained until 1999. He was appointed Executive Mayor for the City of Tshwane in 2000.

Father Mkhatshwa has received a number of awards and honorary degrees:
• Honorary degree - Georgetown University, Washington DC
• Honorary degree - University of Tübingen, Germany
• Honorary degree - University College of New Rochelle, New York, USA
• Steve Biko Human Rights Award