21 January 2013

South Africa: Getting Ready for Taking Parliament to the People

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The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) translated their intentions into action following a public meeting that was held in Silobela, Mpumalaga, as part of preparations for the Taking Parliament to the People (TPTTP) programme which will take place in March.

The meeting, which was held at the weekend, gave the NCOP an opportunity to hear about service delivery issues from residents of the Gert Sibande District Municipality. But in a sign that the NCOP is not only about listening to such issues, two action plans were immediately put in place.

After hearing a complaint by a community member about leaking sewerage pipes in Silobela township, NCOP chairperson Mr Mninwa Mahlangu decided that he and municipality management would inspect the site and come up with a solution, even though this was not on the agenda of the planned programme and had to be done after the meeting had closed.

"Once we close this meeting, I am going to see the problematic drain. I will ask the mayors to accompany me so that we can see where the problem lies and find ways of fixing it immediately.

"In KwaZulu Natal [TPTTP November 2011], we had a similar problem with the drainage pipes and we made sure that it was fixed. When we leave this venue, we will go and attend to the problem," said Mr Mahlangu as he delivered his closing remarks.

When the delegation inspected the site, it became clear that the pipes had not been dug deeply enough and were being affected by factors such as cars driving over them. The problem is now being addressed through the local municipality.

Another resident also received immediate intervention when she told the NCOP about her house, which had been burnt down in a fire.

Executive mayor Mr Mishack Nhlabathi promised that building a new house would start immediately and said it would be finished by the time the NCOP returned for in March.

The NCOP delegation - comprising Mr Mahlangu, Ms Thandi Memela (Deputy Chairperson), Mr Raseriti Tau (House Chairperson: Committees and Oversight), Ms Nosilivere Magadla (House Chairperson: Inter-governmental Relations) and Ms Mmatlala Boroto (Acting Chief Whip) - spent two days in Mpumalanga in preparation for the TPTTP programme.

On Friday, they visited clinics, schools and housing projects in Carolina, Badplaas and Tjakastad. Their observations were supplemented by the residents' input during the public meeting that took place on Saturday.

The issues which came up during the public meeting and the oversight visits will be addressed during the actual TPTTP in March. - Elijah Moholola

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