When it comes to the welfare of its residents, Newcastle Municipality is taking leaping strides to alleviate the plight of those who live in a state squalor. This follows the municipality clinching two awards at the recent Provincial Govan Mbeki Awards.
The municipality secured the win for Best Informal Settlement Upgrade for Siyihlahla-la Informal Settlement. As well as an award for the Best Level 2 Accredited Municipality.
“We will now compete at a National level in November,” explains Newcastle Mayor, Makhosini Nkosi.
In 2017, Newcastle Municipality clinched both the awards for Best Level 2 Accredited Municipality and Level 2 Housing Accreditation. However, what are the odds to win at the National awards ceremony?
“We are confident we are going to win at the nationals,” emphasises Cllr Nkosi. A feat which will reflect the dedication and effort put in by both municipal officials and its leadership.
Why is Newcastle considered the best of the best?
Cllr Nkosi explains when Newcastle Municipality received the respective funds to build the houses in Siyahlahla-la Informal Settlement, it proved not only to be responsible but also efficient, effective and financially prudent when dealing with the funds and erecting the houses.
“It does not mean it is going to be smooth sailing from here,” Cllr Nkosi says. He emphasises there are obstacles, but it is thanks to municipal officials that the awards now sit proudly in Newcastle.
Portfolio Councillor for Development Planning and Human Settlements, Matthew Shunmugam explains the financial and political stability of the department also plays a role in the recent win.
Furthermore, he explains that as Newcastle Municipality receives R7-million from the KZN Human Settlements. These funds form but a small part of the funding for human settlements.
The relevant officials then need to ensure everything is accounted for. As allocation of the funds comes up during the judging for the Govan Mbeki Awards.
“It is difficult, as we compete against some of the top municipalities, such as eThekweni Municipality which has a much bigger budget than we do.”
Acting Strategic Executive Director (SED) of Development Planning and Human Settlements, Vish Govender agrees with Cllr Shunmugam, putting emphasis on just how much competition Newcastle faced at the recent awards.
He explains not only do municipalities such as eThekweni have bigger budgets, but they also have larger staff compliments. “The municipality does face certain issues, but this department is excellent.”
But what are the criteria for the awards?
Director of Human Settlements, Muzi Shozi, explains the judging panel looks at several things. These include public participation, human settlement planning, audit reports and future development plans.
“They even look at the relationship between municipal officials and politicians. As well as the relationship between the municipality and the beneficiaries.”
The judging panel also looks at political stability and protests for housing throughout the year.
Undergoing an extensive judging process, Newcastle Municipality truly has a reason to hold its head up high with pride.
Currently, there are 500 new houses in Siyahlahla-la Informal Settlement. The department of planning and human settlements is looking at creating over 1000 homes.
But why does the municipality want to build so many houses?
“By the time we are finished, we don’t want a single shack in Siyahlahla-la Informal Settlement,” Shozi emphasises.
This is to ensure everyone has access to basic infrastructure and don’t need to live in a deplorable state.
Taking an informal settlement from slum-like conditions to a livable area, Newcastle Municipality truly deserves its awards. Congratulations!