City of Ekurhuleni Turns 20
On 5 December 2000, the local government authorities of the cities and towns east of Gauteng, and 11 administrations, amalgamated and so the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) was born, then the fourth largest metropolitan municipality in the country.
The Eastern Gauteng Services Council, Khayalami Metropolitan Council, and the previous administrations of Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Edenvale/Lethabong, Germiston, Kempton Park/Thembisa, Nigel and Springs were absorbed into the new structure The name Ekurhuleni – which means ‘place of peace’ – alludes to the fact that the then East Rand townships were the site of severe political violence between supporters of the lnkatha Freedom Party and the ANC in the early 1990s, prior to South Africa’s first multiracial elections in 1994. It was proper to find a name for the municipality that represents peace and prosperity.
The Tsonga name ‘Ekurhuleni’ became the people’s choice symbolising the diversity of the new City and its vision of an equitable and progressive community.
Over the past two decades and the City celebrates 20 years of making a difference.
A mayoral executive and ward participatory system of local governance is followed, which ensures that governance is taken right down to community level and that all citizens within the metropolis are represented in decision making. This increases residents’ sense of belonging, accountability and empowerment and actively involves them in all issues dealt with by the metropolitan municipality.
Since the municipal elections on 18 May 2011, the municipality is now made up of 224 councillors, of both elected (112 ward representatives) and proportional (112 councillors) representation. Each of the 112 ward councillors chairs a ward committee as part of the Ward Participatory System that brings participation down to the community level.
The Executive Mayor heads up a team of 10 full-time councillors who make up the Mayoral Committee. In April 2011 it was decided to also separate the legislative and executive powers within the municipality. The immediate outcome of the Separation of Powers model saw an improved political oversight function. Section 79 committees were established, which are aligned to the governing political structure in terms of the Municipal Structures Act. These committees monitor and evaluate the performance of departments and the Members of the Mayoral Committee as political heads.
Moving to City
Starting out and registered as the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, in May 2017 it was reregistered, and gazetted, to be City of Ekurhuleni.
GROWTH and Development
The City’s Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) and Integrated Development Planning (IDP) are its principal strategic planning instruments, which directly guides and informs its planning, budget, management and development actions. This framework is rolled out into objectives, key performance indicators and targets for implementation which directly inform the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan.
It is the IDP that is the City’s principal strategic planning instrument, which directly guides and informs its planning, budget, management and development actions. This framework is rolled out into planning statements covering the five-year objectives, key performance indicators and targets for implementation which directly inform the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan. The whole process was structured around supporting and working toward contributing to the achievement of the programmes set in the GDS.
In 2005, the City of Ekurhuleni adopted its Growth and Development Strategy 2025. This was the first of its kind after the amalgamation of the former nine East Rand towns into Ekurhuleni as a metropolitan municipality.
After reviewing the first strategy it became apparent that there was a need to update the GDS and pave the way for long term planning of the City of Ekurhuleni. After much research and consultation with stakeholders, the new GDS 2055 was completed in 2013 giving the City structure and vision for the years ahead to 2055.
For the City to navigate five long term goals of the 2055 journey it looks at sustainable urban integration, job creating economic growth, social empowerment, environmental wellbeing and effective co-operative governance. There are five leading strategies deployed to pursue these goals, ie:
- Re-urbanise to achieve sustainable urban integration;
- Re-industrialise to achieve to job creating economic growth;
- Re-generate to achieve environmental wellbeing;
- Re-mobilise to achieve social empowerment; and
- Re-govern to achieve effective co-operative governance.
The strategy for growth and development will pave the way for the City’s growth for the next four decades.
The economy of the Ekurhuleni region is larger and more diverse than that of many countries in Africa, including all the countries in Southern Africa. It accounts for nearly a quarter of the Gauteng province’s economy which, in turn, contributes over one third of the national Gross Domestic Product.
Ekurhuleni contributes about 7% to the country’s spending power and another 6.2% to its production. In the majority of indicators of economic activity, namely per capita income, unemployment, poverty, average wages as well as other indicators of human development, it is similar to the rest of Gauteng.
It has the largest concentration in Gauteng, South Africa and Africa of industry for the production of goods and commodities; which is why Ekurhuleni is often referred to as ‘Africa’s workshop’. Manufacturing in Ekurhuleni accounts for around 18% of its total production output, and around 23% of the GDP of Gauteng.
The City brags a network of roads, airports, rail lines, telephones, electricity grids and telecommunications that rivals that of Europe and America – a first world infrastructure supporting a well-established industrial and commercial complex.
Ekurhuleni can be regarded as the transportation hub of the country; it is home to the OR Tambo International Airport, the busiest airport in Africa which services the entire continent and links to major cities throughout the world. Similarly, many of the world’s leading airlines fly into OR Tambo International Airport.
In addition, the country’s largest railway hub is in Ekurhuleni (Germiston) and links it to all the major population centres and ports in the Southern African region.
A number of South Africa’s modern freeways and expressways connect Ekurhuleni to other cities and provinces. The Maputo corridor development, South Africa’s most advanced spatial development initiative, connects Ekurhuleni with the capital of Mozambique and the largest South African Indian Ocean port. Direct rail, road and air links connect Ekurhuleni to Durban, the biggest and busiest port within South Africa.
The OR Tambo International Airport has been identified as the nucleus for the development of the Aerotropolis, which is one of the flagship projects of the municipality to stimulate growth and job creation.
Since 2000, this City has seen five executive mayors and three city managers at the helm.
Bavumile Vilakazi was first to take up the reins (2000 – 2001), followed by Duma Nkosi, who served from 2001 – 2008. In 2008 Ntombi Mekgwe took her seat in the mayor’s office, whereafter Mondli Gungubele served for the term 2019 – 2016. Current Executive Mayor Cllr Mzwandile Masina took the baton in August 2016.
The first city manager of the new metropolitan municipality was Paul Maseko (2001 – 2006) followed by Patrick Flusk (2006 – 2009), Kaya Ngema (2009 – 2016). Dr Imogen Mashazi is the current city manager, taking office in 2016.
Since inception, a number of achievements and historical moments stand out in the City’s endeavours to continue to make a difference in the lives of the residents and business within its borders.
- 2004 – Freedom of the City bestowed on OR and Adelaide Tambo and Chris Hani
- 2017 – Freedom of the City bestowed on Thandi Klassen posthumously
- 2016 – gravesite of OR and Adelaide Tambo at Tamboville Cemetery declared a National Heritage Site. The OR Tambo Narrative Centre was opened, which is a multi-media, interactive exhibition that narrates, commemorates and celebrates the life and legacy of the Tambos. It describes the significant people, histprical places and events in Wattville that are associated with their lives and times. The centre is part of a larger precinct that includes a monument at the OR and Adelaide Tambo gravesite, an environmental and crafts centre and an amphitheatre for the performing arts.
- A total of nine of the 93 healthcare facilities are open 24/7, with 18 operating 12-hours a day and on Sundays. The extended operating hours was introduced over the past five years, providing added healthcare service to residents.
- Chronic medication pick up points were introduced and over 75 000 patients now benefit – no more waiting in queues at clinics. The pick-up points are possible through a partnership with commercial pharmacy groups.
- The Department of Health listed Gauteng has having the highest number of ideal clinics (281 out of 372) across the country from 2015 to 2018. Ekurhuleni showed the highest percentage of facilities with ideal status at 88.2%. An ideal facility has good infrastructure, adequate staff and medical supplies, good administrative processes, and implements applicable clinical policies, protocols and guidelines. A clinic should co-operate with other government departments and private sector and non-governmental organisations to address the social determinants of health.
- In moving into the digital sphere, the City’s My Ekurhuleni App was launched in July 2018. The first services’ app of the City encompasses key local government services such as making burial site requests, reporting potholes, locating municipal and state facilities and the City’s contact directory.
- The Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO) Quality of Life Survey 2017/18, through its research partners and citizen engagement, has become one of the most comprehensive and reliable instruments to measure citizens’ satisfaction and perceptions on governance, service delivery, socio-economic development and the quality of life among the people of Gauteng. The City was rated as the number one metro in terms of delivering quality services.
- The 2015 Salga Municipal Benchmark Initiative has appraised the non-revenue water reduction strategy of the City as better than the national average. During this term non-revenue water reduced from 39.3% to 34.5% of total water revenue.
- Consistently, the City has been recognised as among the best in the country in terms of the quality of water and water management, as per the Departments of Water Blue Drop water quality certification.
- First is the ranking CoE received among the country’s eight metros in the Business Day Governance Index, scoring 81.9 points out of 100.
- In 2017, the award of Best Municipality was awarded to CoE at the provincial Govan Mbeki Awards for progress in human settlements.
- Best Municipal Plan was received in 2016 at the South African Planning Institute Awards for the spatial development framework.
- The City is the largest water service provider and provides 97% of the population with water. About 3% of the water service is through vendors, water flowing through streams and rivers and by own means.
- E-fuel technology implemented in over 34 depots and over 5 000 vehicles. All vehicles, plant units and daily transactions monitored and controlled via a centralised software application
- The City’s Emergency Services Training Academy is the first training centre to have urban search and rescue technician presenters and accredited to present fire and rescue qualifications. In 2017 CoE, as one of one four in the country, was accredited as a skills development provider for:
- occupational certificate: Fire-fighter (NQF 4, SAQA ID 98991)
- accredited as an assessment centre for the Occupational Certificate: Firefighter (NQF 4, SAQA ID 98991)
- An online payment system was introduced to enable ratepayers to view, manage and pay their account anytime and anywhere. In 2019 this system was totally revamped and upgraded to provide a secure platform that is run by the municipality. In addition, this platform is extended to provide additional services like providing meter readings, paying traffic fines and other services – siyakhokha.ekurhuleni.gov.za.
- In 2020, the City is set to finalising all processes in becoming mSCOA compliant. The Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts (mSCOA) was introduced by National Treasury and alters the municipal operating environment by enforcing a standardization of municipal account numbers and descriptions in municipalities’ charts. It will improve governance, accountability, transparency and the management of public funds. mSCOA is designed to modernize financial management through updated systems and technology and ensures credible, reliable and timely database of municipal information at a very detailed level.