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Mayoral Budget Speech and the State of the Town Address – 2016

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Honourable Speaker, Cllr MF Zikhali
Deputy Mayor Cllr Rachel Mdluli
Her worship, Mayor of Amajuba District Municipality, Cllr Jabu Mkhwanazi
Her Worship, Mayor of Dannhouser Municipality, Cllr Jabu Phakathi
His Worship, Mayor of Emadlangeni Municipality, Cllr Vusi Ndlovu
Councillors
Acting Municipal Manager Mr BE Mswane and all officials present
Amakhosi present
Pastor Sipho Ntombela and members of the Religious fraternity
ANC Leadership and its alliances
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Listeners on Newcastle Community Radio

Good evening, sanibonani

Honourable Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to address this august council sitting in the final year of this councillors’ term of office.

It may very well be my last budget address to this house, Honourable Speaker, and for those of you who are expecting nothing less than just a proud recitation of the accomplishments of my administration, I say, we’re not finished yet!!! So, my message to you tonight is to roll up your sleeves, because we’re still on the job!

Tonight marks the 8th year that I have come to report on the State of our Town. And for this final one, I don’t only want to talk about what we have in store for next year in the budget. Don’t worry, we have plenty, from assisting young people to further their studies, to an exciting roll out of technology that will move us closer to a smart city. But we will also continue to keep pushing for progress on the work that I believe still needs to be done.

Like providing water and electricity to each and every one of our households, whether they are in the suburbs or the deepest rural parts of this city.
Like ensuring that our townships of Madadeni, Osizweni, and surrounding areas will one day look like Aviary Hill, Hutten Heights, Lennoxton and Paradise.

Like continuing our drive to maintain infrastructure in the suburbs in the west, so as to not reduce the quality of life of citizens there.

Like intensifying our infrastructure investment programme, thereby allowing all our citizens to have equal access to municipal infrastructure.

All these things still matter to hardworking families. They are still the right thing to do, and we cannot slow down, until they get done!

For my final address to this house, I don’t just want to focus on next year. I want to focus on the next five years and beyond. I want to focus on our future.

The vision of our municipality is “by 2030 Newcastle Municipality will be a sustainable, economically vibrant city that affords its citizens a high quality of life” and this must be achieved.

As our term of office draws to an end, with the imminent 2016 local government elections on our doorstep, it is critical that we take a few steps back to allow ourselves to measure our progress against the promises that we made when we were elected into council in May 2011.

I have to really keep account Somlomo, of when it all started. Going down memory lane to the year 2009. Somlomo, you will recall the political change in leadership in this municipality. It was during this time, that the political direction we committed ourselves to as the ruling party was to prioritise key areas for development of this budding city.

Addressing poverty through the regeneration of our townships, developing our rural areas, maintenance and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the CBD – as well as other areas , facilitating housing development, stimulating job opportunities, are but only a few of the interventions that we committed ourselves to. It was on the basis of this manifesto, that we truly began our journey to redress the legacy of Apartheid through the 5 key performance areas for local government, aligning ourselves to the National Medium Term Strategic Framework and Millennium development goals.

You will recall also Somlomo that there was all the hype about the IDP being a wish list and that the demands on the coffers of the Municipality were just too much of a burden to the ratepayer. Yes, that was true then, and it will remain true for many years to come as we acknowledge the futility of Apartheid; even now 22 years into our democracy. As a leadership bold decisions had to be taken to enable social and economic cohesion of our communities.

One of these bold decisions was a process to reform and re-engineer our budget, in an effort to “speed up change”. We refocused the capital programme on infrastructure, development and undertook a cost cutting exercise on our operational budget to ensure a leaner, more streamlined, service delivery municipality talking directly to the needs of our community as expressed in the IDP.

We received many a criticism about our capacity to implement such an enormous capital programme over the years, with some political parties even recording their dissenting votes on the budget.
But we have emerged, through some seriously challenging bottlenecks, “working smarter, harder and faster” with a whopping operational spend of approximately R6,7 Billion and a capital infrastructure investment programme of more than R2 billion.

Our investment in infrastructure has seen Newcastle become a permanent construction site, sending a loud and clear message that we are a model city in progress.
Completed projects are being embraced by communities, as they continue changing the landscape of this city forever. As SARS said in their national ad campaign when they used our Clifford Manana bridge that connects the people of Madadeni directly with the industrial area: “we are indeed changing lives!”

In presenting the 2016/17 draft operational and capital budget to council, Honourable Speaker, I do it in a spirit of frankness, both about our challenges and the opportunity to turn our municipality’s direction towards hope, confidence and a better future for all.

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan in his budget address last month spoke profoundly on the topic: “We are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to manage and overcome our economic challenges. All of us want jobs, thriving businesses, engaged professionals, narrowing inequality, fewer in poverty.

All of us want a new values paradigm, a society at peace with itself, a nation energised by the task of building stronger foundations for our future society and economy. We want our government to function effectively, our people to work in dignity, with resources for their families, decent homes and opportunities for their children. We want to see progress throughout our land, in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, construction, tourism, science and research, sport and leisure, trade and commerce. It is within our grasp to achieve this future. It requires bold and constructive leadership in all sectors, a shared vision, a common purpose, and the will to find common ground. Above all else we need action, not just words.”

I could not have said it better.

We live in a time of extraordinary change. Change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we interact, the way we operate. It is the duty of this municipality to embrace that change, to harness it, and adapt to it. In her address to the provincial legislature, Finance MEC, Honourable Belinda Scott spoke at length of national treasuries budget cuts. “This reprioritisation exercise required National Treasury to look at all spheres of government in effecting budget cuts and this is referred to as Round ONE cuts. Also, as a result of the need to lower the country’s expenditure ceiling to fall in line with lower revenue projections, a second round of cuts is effected against the three spheres of government with this being referred to as Round TWO cuts. Its important to note that there were no “holy cows” in this reprioritisation and expenditure ceiling lowering exercise, and all three spheres of government, as well as both equitable share and conditional grant funding, was impacted by this.”

We are in no way immune to the global and local financial crisis. Our municipality is also in stormy waters, and it is now imperative for us to think outside the box, to come up with more groundbreaking ideas to save the ratepayers money, and use it more effectively.

It is time to steady the ship, and proceed, with caution.

It is against this background that we consolidate our operational budget to just over R1,7 billion and our capital budget to R238 million.

Even with this relatively conservative budget, we have tasked our departments to further effect a 5% cut on the operational expenses, to create a higher cash flow surplus that will enable us to buffer the storm.

With this being said, we continue our drive on key priority deliverables.

ROADS & STORMWATER

The major expenditure of the R2 billion spent on infrastructure in the last few years went towards new roads and bridges. We have tarred almost all major roads in the townships, and now continue to get into the smaller ones. R89 million in the new financial year will once again go towards new roads and sidewalks, with key catalytic projects being used to ease traffic flow and connect people to strategic parts of the city. Allen street extension towards Victoria has come to an end, but the cherry on top will be the state of the art steel structure that will adorn the new Ncandu river bridge, complete with LED lighting to create a fitting entrance to our thriving city.

Asiphephe road will continue to be upgraded to the tune of R10 million. We will be adding new tar roads to Charlestown with the completion of Nek Road to the value of R3,5 million, KwaMatukuza Road R1.3 million , Watt Street R1.9 million and linking the Johnston, Blaaubosch and Cavan areas to Osizweni will cost us R27 million. The rest of the funding will see a host of roads distributed evenly between Osizweni and Madadeni. R5,4 million will see more urban hub walk ways being built in the townships allowing people to walk and cycle in safety.

We continue to budget for traffic calming devices (speed bumps) throughout Newcastle, Madadeni and Osizweni. Whilst these are not the idea situation and our team is currently looking at new solutions, we have to find a way to slow traffic down especially around schools for the safety of our children.

Staffordhill sewer pump station will go into the next phase to the tune of R2.8 million, Madadeni waste water treatment works will get a further upgrade to the value of R9 million and see another R40 million being spent over the next 2 financial years to cater for this ever growing and thriving township.

The Ingagane WWTW will see R10 million being spent in the first phase this year. A further R15 million has been placed on the budget to continue the AC pipe replacement projects. This project will go a long way in easing the water outages caused by old infrastructure in Lennoxton, Hutten Heights, Barry Hertzog Park, Madadeni and Osizweni.

Panorama storm water will move into its final phase with R3.5 million allocated to this project. We continue to go house to house with our WCDM project in Osizweni replacing old cisterns and repairing leaking taps and pipes to the tune of R13,6 million. We have further budgeted R1 million for Madadeni to complete the project there. This project goes to the heart of our save water campaign and has seen the municipality save almost 20% of its clean water.

ELECTRICITY

We continue to lead the way with converting our street lights into LEDS, thereby reducing our electricity usage and providing brighter lights on our streets. R5 million more has been budgeted for this. Street lights already adorn the P483 main road from Newcastle to Osizweni, the complete township of Ingagane, and a partial takeover of Eskoms facilities in Madadeni and Osizweni.

Honourable Speaker it is my belief that this council has literally lit up the lives of its communities. We have provided over 100 high mast lights in the last 5 years providing a wall to wall coverage of lighting in our townships. We have electrified households in Charlestown, Normandien, Dickshault, Ingogo, Bosworth, Vezubuhle, Fairview and Mndozo. R8,5 million has been budgeted to electrify more areas. The Siyahlalala suburb alongside Fairleigh will get R6 million towards the first phase of electrifying the 1200 houses that are earmarked to be built in the next few months. This goes together with the R20 million for bulk water and sewer in that area.

We are serious Honourable Speaker when we talk about Siyahlalala Suburb because I am confident that this project will be one of the most successful projects this municipality has ever embarked on.

COMMUNITY SERVICES

We are in the process of completing two new halls in the JBC and Charlestown areas, and these will be fully furnished and ready for use before July this year. We have air conditioned the show hall, and now budgeting R300 000 for generators to power the Madadeni and Osizweni halls in the event of electricity load shedding in the eskom licence areas. We have raised the bar when it comes to building new play parks in this country with our state of the art playground and outdoor gym equipment. We will complete two more parks in Madadeni and Osizweni and upgrade the 3 exiting parks in NN west already budgeted in this current financial year.

Honourable Speaker, in 2009, when the ANC took over council we owned 7 tractors to cut the grass in our town. Four of which were beyond repairs. We also had 20 brush cutters and 5 kudu self-propelled mowers. Needless to say the municipality was failing to keep the grass cut. From then to now, we have 18 brand new tractors, 90 brush cutters and 30 kudu self-propelled mowers.

We have four brand new trucks to transport staff and we have increased our staff compliment from 45 in 2009 to 119 currently. Because of these advancements we have managed to keep our verges neat in Newcastle and for years now we have extended our services to Madadeni, Osizweni, Ingagane, Kilbarchan and Charlestown.

In the last 2 weeks, we have established a cemetery grass cutting team which will only focus on keeping our cemeteries neat. in collaboration with our local farmers, we are using grass cut to be bailed and used as cattle feed, especially in a time when the province is still reeling from the effects of late rainfall. This will also assist us to save costs, and extend our reach even further.

This is indeed a GOOD STORY TO TELL.

We continue the upgrading of our sports facilities, with Mzamo sports field in Blaauwbosch almost complete. Arbor Park has been fenced, as promised last year and the focus in the coming years should be on Phelindaba in Madadeni as a complete sports precinct.

The fire department has also been completely revamped. Whilst we budget this year for more emergency equipment needed, we now have ample fire trucks stationed in Madadeni, Osizweni and Newcastle. We have moved a great deal forward from the 30 year old fire trucks that used to break down on the way to a fire. We have spent nothing less than R15 million in the last few years for this essential service.

Collecting refuse has also seen a major upgrade. We started the term with vehicles that were too old to be repaired, and an unequal approach to different collecting methods in the suburbs and the townships. Old compactor trucks were used to collect in the suburbs, and yellow tractors and trailers were used in Madadeni and Osizweni.

We argued the case of “one city, one service”, and reengineered the department to embrace this motto. Today, Honourable Speaker, we have eleven brand new compactors, one front end loader, one roll on truck, one tipper truck, three cranes with grabs and two skip trucks. All brand-new and ready to service our communities.

This is what we mean when the President calls for going back to basics. Siyaqhuba!

Waste to energy is still high on our agenda, as we continue to look at new and innovative ways to reduce the tax burden on the ratepayer. We have also started a composting project on our landfill site.

The site itself is one of the best operated landfill sites in the country, with six municipalities from KwaZulu Natal already visiting us to learn best practice in methods of operation and waste diversion strategies.

Somlomo, we have held the title for greenest and cleanest town in KwaZulu Natal throughout this term of council, and last year we were second cleanest in South Africa.

I am still not satisfied that we still collect refuse in bin bags, whereas most first world countries are now using roller bins to be left out by residents. The department has been tasked with urgently investigating this option, and 2016/17 should see a partial rollout of this method in suburbs. This will go a long way in keeping our city clean, as the roller bins will not be able to be dropped and spread by neighbourhood dogs.

As mentioned last year, our flagship library in Scott Street will get a much needed upgrade, however there is a raging debate still going on in council on whether the funds should be used to upgrade the current facility or in my humble opinion, build a new one alongside. This will allow us to use the old library building for the carnegie art gallery and a decent museum showcasing our struggle heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives to make South Africa and Newcastle a better place to live in.

It will also be a fitting addition to the municipal precinct alongside our tower block and town hall.

LAND AND HOUSING

Honourable Speaker, we are indeed proud of the giant leaps we have made regarding housing projects in and around Newcastle. It was a daunting task, taking on the province in making sure that our projects are approved and implemented, and today we are able to enjoy the fruits of that labour.

The Kwamathukuza housing project has been rebuilt, streets tarred, trees planted. A further addition of 200 houses is planned currently. Siyaqhuba!

Osizweni section E, Khathide housing project and Emawozeni housing projects are all under way, with the department currently having projects to an estimated R1,4 billion.

Siyahlala housing project and Madadeni H39 will start top structures before the end of this financial year. Most sites have been serviced and these projects will be complete suburbs. It is, after all, the reason why the municipality won the national Govan Mbheki award for best planning and implementation of human settlements in the country!

The Suryaville and Failrleigh flats are in the process of being upgraded and will be handed over to tenants once this completed.

In Madadeni, we have now completed 2300 houses which were damaged by storms, and continue to actively engage residents who still have damaged roofs. In Osizweni, as well as in other parts, the province has approved a project that will see all houses with the dangerous asbestos roofing being removed. Asbestos has been known to cause serious illness in the occupants of these homes and this project is a welcome relief.

Somlomo, we continue making more land available in lenville by servicing sites there. Land in Aviary Hill has been serviced and all these sites, including others will be made available within the next few weeks. First time homeowners will be given priority, as per council’s policy.

We believe, Honourable Speaker that council should not own any land whilst the people out there are looking for sites to build. In the next few weeks, we will be doing a complete audit of all serviced sites and start disposing of them at affordable prices.

Communities should be aware that no one can sell you a municipal site, and we should be careful not to fall victim by people who are trying to rob us from our hard earned money.

We also believe in proper land distribution, and we must start preparing for more settlements, to avoid people grabbing land without permission. In this regard, I call for the department to do an audit on the need for more settlements, and plan accordingly.

We have also tasked the department to look at the possibility of selling all council owned farms. These farms should be put into the hands of co-operatives, community based organisations, as well as commercial farmers so that we can stimulate the local economy and speed up the agrarian revolution that the ruling party talks so passionately about.

RURAL DEVELOPMENT

The rural communities of this city continues to be high on the priorities of this council. We have provided clean water to people who once shared the troughs of animals. In Blaaubosch, which used to belong to landowners, we have purchased all the land and continue to provide infrastructure to that area.

Charlestown, who was reliant on water being purchased and supplied by Volksrust, is now on the way to being self-sufficient as we have laid out a borehole and water distribution master plan in that area.

We need to continue to engage farmers in the Normandien area to take water to residents on their farms. This needs to be done as soon as possible, and if there is no outcome, we should not be afraid to approach the courts. Basic services to our people shall not be delayed or denied!!!

Playparks, electricity, and new halls will continue bringing joy to the people of these areas. Tar roads in the JBC and Charlestown areas should also make it easier for emergency vehicles to access these areas.

The CBD of Blaaubosch will never be the same again with the construction of Theku plaza, and we will continue to upgrade and empower people of these disadvantaged communities.

Toilets will still be built in wards 1,6,7,8,12,13,15,16,30 and 31. Other wards will also be added, and new demarcation boundaries will be taken into account in the financial year.

YOUTH, JOB CREATION AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION

The recent developments at the Majuba TVET College has been concerning, and I reject with contempt the politics that some young people are using in burning down our education facilities. The burning of class rooms in Madadeni was a sad day for Newcastle, and I appeal to these young men and women to always place negotiations and compromise above violence and destruction.

Our partnership with the TVET College remains strong, and we continue to assist and enable young people to study in this facility. As we reiterate the call for the inclusion of 40% of youth in all structures, we want to make certain that this includes all professions and walks of life. It should not be limited to politics alone.

In this regard, the office of the Mayor has funded 1730 students with registration fees during my term, with 530 being sent this January alone. We do not differentiate who should receive these free registration fees, and we therefore sent ALL those young people who applied and qualified.

We will continue to budget for this important assistance, and make a call to business to partner with us and assist these young people to further their studies.

It was heartwarming to be in the UK, where a special fundraiser was held for the students of Newcastle South Africa, and the efforts of Cllr David Faulkner of Newcastle Upon Tyne will always be appreciated for sending over 18 children to university this year.

As part of the decade of the artisan, my office sent 150 disadvantaged learners on an N1 and N2 engineering programme. These learners will then progress to a fully funded semi-skilled programme in the fields of mechanical, electrical and diesel engineering. Once completed, they will be gainfully employed as artisan assistants in the engineering sector. 88% of these learners passed this programme with flying colours and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

102 young people were assisted with their drivers licences, and a further 90 will be assisted in the next few months. This allows us to empower these young people to find jobs that require a valid driver’s licence. Siyaqhuba!

The municipality is currently in talks with universities to construct satellite campuses here. We have to continue this drive until our young people do not have to leave home to further their studies. We are after all a city that needs to attract young people to live, work and play here.

The new term of office should see the formation of a new youth council in the office of the Mayor, and this council should be given the responsibility of guiding and assisting the formation of policies that govern the youth.

We continue to provide almost 2000 temporary jobs through our capital infrastructure programme and this term of office has seen over 5000 people being employed in our EPWP programme. We are currently discussing increasing this project, and harnessing these workers to further assist in service delivery programmes such as refuse collection and street cleansing. A further R2,5 million has been placed on this current financial year for this exact purpose.

This municipality will continue its drive to attract business and investments, using these as a powerful tool to fight poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Since we started, residents will stand witness to the developments that took place between black rock casino and BMW, as well as the area around Mcdonalds. Theku plaza in blaaubosch and the new mall earmarked for Madadeni has forever changed the landscape of this city.

The fact that one businessman has opened water bottling plant with a national presence deep in the mountains of Normandien is proof of the confidence business still enjoys in Newcastle. At this juncture, let me take this opportunity to thank Thirsti water for the water distribution project that they are leading nationally, as well as assisting our neighbours in Vryheid with free bottled water.

The council approved the ALIVE AFTER 5 concept last year, which saw street entertainment and night stalls being introduced into the CBD in an effort to attract more people to shop there and enjoy extended shopping hours during the festive season.

We acknowledge our challenges and shortfall with this programme, but still believe that with the right amount of planning and consultation, this project can be a real success. The idea is to attract people to the CBD after hours in a safe environment, to enjoy music, art and theatre whilst those who require retail therapy browse the open shops. This is a concept we believe in, and a concept that we will try to implement again this year. We invite stakeholders to come on board, advise and assist us.

We have assisted 266 groups of people with poverty alleviation projects, ranging from bakeries to chicken farms. We will continue to assist young entrepreneurs who have a solid business plan.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The Provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) identified Newcastle as one of the key strategic areas for the deployment of free Wi-Fi to attract investment, accelerate economic development, market key tourist zones and contribute to an improved quality of life. The initial phase of the project is to identify key strategic sites/areas/zones within Newcastle for the deployment of Wi-Fi infrastructure that will provide free Wi-Fi access.

Candidate zones for the Wi-Fi rollout project include the Industrial Hub, Techno Hub, economic centres, public libraries, post offices, transport hubs i.e. taxi ranks and wards that have been identified in the KwaZulu Natal Poverty Eradication Master Plan. There are many examples from across the world of the types of innovations that can come out of the Wi-Fi availability and we are excited to know that Newcastle is strategically making advancements towards the implementation of such innovations.

The KZN EDTEA Wi-Fi project comes at the time where the municipality has been working on making municipal services available via a secure Customer Services Portal which will allow citizens of the town to gain access to their utilities accounts, make payments online and gain access to meter readings. On the back-end, the portal will also assist in managing hall bookings. The portal will be launched before the end of this financial year.

The recent survey by statistic SA and the office of the Premier in KwaZulu Natal, which shows Newcastle as having the highest customer satisfactions in the province is a welcome sign. It shows that we have the support of our communities, and we are able to address their needs and complaints in a quick turnaround time.

Moving further towards a smarter city, The Newcastle Municipality is determined to implement cutting edge technology that will help us spend ratepayer’s money more efficiently and to reduce operational costs. In 2016/17, we will be building a world-class Municipal Area Network and Voice cloud to improve service delivery and turnaround times to the citizens; to improve the efficiency of municipal employees and systems; to reduce operational expenditure; to reduce the municipality’s dependency on a single telecoms service provider – as we have seen with the lack of service availability due to cable theft; and to consolidate and simplify the municipality’s data and voice infrastructure. This implementation will see the municipality save as much as 40% on annual voice costs. The return on investment will be realized in as early as 9 months of implementation and the savings will mainly come from the fact that telephone calls between municipal buildings will now be carried by the municipal data network.

The new tower block has completed phase 2, and even though we may still require more office space, we have suspended all construction on site and will use the complete building before the end of June. As we speak about changing the landscape of this city, we cannot be proud of the investment that this city has made in this tower block. It stands as a symbol of hope and prosperity, of modernisation and development. But most importantly it sends a message that we are open for business!!!

The 94% customers satisfaction survey of being number 1 in the province, the cleanest town awards, the Govan Mbheki award, the most innovative infrastructure award and the 3 consecutive wins of best performing mayor in KwaZulu Natal, are proof, Honourable Speaker, that we have a winning formula and lead a great team. In this regard, I would like to theme the budget 2016/17 “reaping the fruits of our labour – sivuna umvuzo wezithukuthuku zethu”. To celebrate this, each councillor will find on /her desk a bowl of fruit, so that they can taste the fruits of their labour. Indeed Siyaqhuba!

However, I said in the beginning that I want to talk about the future too. I therefore am proud to announce that in the next few months, council will identify streets where, instead of planting normal trees, fruit trees will be planted. We want to see the streets of our suburbs and townships bearing orange, peaches and other fruit. We want to provide nutrition to commuters and children who walk on these sidewalks, whilst also fighting soil erosion and providing shade. I open the challenge to each and every resident to plant a fruit tree in front of their home and all businesses to join us and sponsors trees for the more disadvantaged areas.

Now, Honourable Speaker, let us talk about how all this will be paid for.

We continue to provide basic services for free to households who earn below R3 500.00 per month, but all others must pay cash!

An average payment factor of 83% from July until February has been realised. This is a payment factor that is total revenue billed vs total receipts collected. Receipts from arrears debt is not part of this calculation. This percentage will increase even further with a more aggressive and innovative collection strategy that we will be rolling out. We are also liaising with law firms and the master of the high court to assist with ukushitsha amatayitela (the transfer of properties) especially in respect of deceased consumers.

We have maintained an increase of 7% for rates, sewer and refuse and will pass only the NERSA approved 9,4% increase on electricity on to consumers.

We are forever mindful of the fact that people struggle to pay us, and as a caring government we continue to engage residents on making life simpler.

We continue to provide prepaid meters to all those who apply, and subsidise 50% of the cost of these meters. We are proud to announce that by May 2016, we will be introducing the easy pay system that will allow consumers to pay their utility bills at major chain stores throughout the country.

We also want to do away with the posting of bills, and we will be embarking on a campaign to build a data base of emails, so that electronic bills can become a reality.

Honourable Speaker, in conclusion, I would first like to thank almighty GOD for choosing me to lead this city for the last 7 years. Without his grace, his wisdom and his guiding hand, all this would have not been possible.

The staff in the office of the Mayor ably led by my loyal Manager, my comrade, my greatest asset, Miss Nomsa Mtshali. The team, including my security personal, is now a well-oiled political machine that is able to overcome any challenge.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the department of finance for their efforts in compiling this budget. As their Portfolio Councillor, I am sure it is not an easy task to work with me, and I know that our heated exchanges can do nothing more than develop us into better financial managers Steve Jobs put it nicely when he said “my job is not to be easy on people, my job is to make them better.”

I thank the Acting Municipal Manager and his team of Strategic Executive Directors and Directors, for bearing with all budget cuts, and for allowing us to continue pushing the frontiers for new, innovative and cheaper ways of doing business.

The deputy mayor and executive committee, for their unwavering support during this term. i still stand by the fact that this is one of the most dynamic executive committees to grace the corridors of power, and I thank them for discussing issues in a transparent and honest manner.

The Honourable Speaker and council, for always supporting the decisions of the executive, and amending where necessary. Your guidance and support will long be remembered.

On 18 May 2016, I will be completing by 4th term as a councillor and 20 years in service to Newcastle Municipality. I remember vividly the robust debates I had with my father in 1996 as he tried to convince me to serve the people of Newcastle in council. I was 21 years of age at the time. As I end this term of office I cannot help but remember my experiences in this municipality since 1996. I want to thank my parents and my siblings for steering me into this life of public service. You have all been pillars of strength to me.

I literally feel as if I have grown up in this organisation, sacrificing the better part of my youth to serving the people of Newcastle. It was an honour and a privilege. Whether I return to council or not after the local government elections, I will forever cherish these memories and use the experiences gained to continue serving people in whichever way I can.

I thank the ANC, who have been chosen by the majority of these residents, for having faith in me and granting me the opportunity to lead this dynamic municipality. The mere fact that even one person has nominated me to hold this senior position is truly humbling. I will forever be indebted to this organisation.

To my wife Farhana, my children and my family. I want to thank you for standing by me through good times and bad. When one decides to hold public office, one prepares himself for the worst kind of onslaught of public scrutiny. I know very well that you have not been able to live your life normally because of my choice of career. I know that the rumours, innuendo and sometimes downright accusations of people who want to destroy my legacy and propel themselves to this position hurt you more than it does to me. I know that you have not chosen to be politicians, yet you still pay the price for this because of me.

But I hope that you take solace in the fact that the majority of citizens have stood with us, and continue to do so. The support and love that I receive from these communities at large will forever be humbling and I take this opportunity to thank them for their unwavering confidence and for being a source of inspiration for me forever.

Ngiyabonga!

Thank you!

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