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Service delivery: a continuous struggle

Crime reported in June 2020

Burglary residential
Myburgh Street
Jan Enslin Avenue
Gustav Crecent
Willie Du Plessis Road
Mettam Street
Hurley Street
Van Iddekinge Avenue
Usmar Street
Welthagen Street
Amie Pretorius Road


Without supervision, leadership and direction

My career-related wanderings over many years have not only brought me to interesting places and people. I was also confronted with a legion of experiences and incidents that could serve as life lessons and reveal certain important principles to me.

Recently, Paul Colditz, CEO of FEDSAS (whose home and office are in Fichardt Park), said in a radio interview with RSG that leadership and accountability “from top to bottom” are prerequisites for responsible decision-making and policy implementation. The challenges related to the closure of schools or not, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was the theme for the programme “Praat Saam”, which was broadcasted on 23 July 2020.

It reminded me of a meeting on 2 September 2008 in Boksburg where the then National Minister of Education, Dr Naledi Pandor, asked nine provincial project managers of a national monitoring programme to express in mere minutes what the biggest challenges for education in their provinces are. In the Free State, I said, it is essential that leadership at all levels be drastically improved, from the teacher in the classroom to the senior management of the five education districts, the provincial head office and the political education leadership of the province. She looked at her delegation and asked Duncan Hindle, then Director-General, if he had heard what should happen at the national education department as well: Leadership without exception!

Without competent guidance and sound discipline, no business can succeed. It is essential that everyone in an organisation is aware of the norms, standards and outcomes that should be strived for. Equally important is that there must be effective oversight, monitoring and evaluation of performance at all times in order to be able to meet the strategic objectives. Similarly, the achievement of results for any project must meet the expectations of a community in terms of budget, allocated resources and agreed strategic plans.

A few years ago, when I still had to travel for assignments, the EPWP for Expanded Public Works Programme was a great source of frustration for me because apparently very little work was done along our roads and apparently there was no actual supervision and control. Between Koffiefontein and Luckhoff, the teams had more rest and picnics under the Karee trees along the road at any time of the day than there had been progress in repairing the gravel shoulders of the road. Sometimes one or two members of a team with a few shovels and a wheelbarrow would seemingly cover a ditch or two, only to realise a year later that grass and bushes had covered the ‘repairs’ and the condition of the shoulders were worse than ever before. Between Thaba Nchu and the Black Mountain Hotel, the tarred surface of the road was full of potholes while the workers in their orange overalls and EPWP on their backs tried to level the road shoulders with a single wheelbarrow and a few shovels. It would be naive to try to justify this project as meaningful.

During 2012, I was part of a national survey over 15 weeks.  The survey had to be done at more than 5000 schools in the Eastern Cape. With four-wheel drive vehicles provided to us, I traversed large sections of the Sterkspruit and King William’s Town education districts and visited 89 schools as a group leader. I was privileged to experience places and roads I had never visited before and may never be able to see again, but I have hordes of photos of places, schools and people! In this article, I only share some of the photos with our readers. During that time, I often thought of M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Travelled.

During the survey, I visited Nomlengana Senior Primary Farm School near Danger’s Hoek in the Sterkspruit District of the Eastern Cape on 08 August 2012. When I asked the principal if the GPS correctly indicated that the road ends here at the school, she replied: “Sir, this is not the end of the road, this is the end of the world!”

In this area, no school day is possible if it has rained a little, because then the roads are impassable for learners and teachers as well as those who have to provide the food for the national school feeding program. Along the two-lane dirt road to the school and nearby clinic, I met a team of EPWP workers. The morning when I passed there just after 08:00, the team lay comfortably in the sparse sun and rested, and when I returned at three o’clock in the afternoon, I found the same idyllic picture. They were very happy when I took a picture. The spokesman said they were working there to fix the “potholes”. This, dear reader, on a low-grade two-lane dirt road that carries virtually no traffic! The little work that is done there by using one wheelbarrow and collecting pot clay from the field to fill the road cavities, is soon damaged again as wind and demand takes its toll and every vehicle that drives past after a rainstorm, causes new “potholes”.

I made peace with the fact that EPWP is a means to another end, namely to enable people, who otherwise would not be able to buy food, clothes or medicine to be able to do so. I even made peace with the fact that politicians would count the number of EPWP employees as part of their “scorecard” for job creation in South Africa! Certainly, such a social support programme is not job creation in the true sense of the word.

The above isolated and perhaps one-sided examples are indicative of situations where little leadership, supervision, monitoring and accountability are present; where poor decision-making amounts to a waste of money that could have been used more efficiently elsewhere. Many of these we still see daily in poor service delivery and low levels of productivity, even in our own metropolitan municipality.

Aside from many other realities that Covid-19 has unexpectedly left on us, the demands it currently places on leadership at all levels are enormous – and without the necessary oversight, monitoring and accountability, efficient service delivery and neighbourly service is much worse.

The FNA, our own neighbourhood organisation, together with many collaborating role players, has indeed already proven that they are a “small” vehicle to make a big difference to these enormous challenges.

Let us lead responsibly, overhaul all supervision and control and thus build a smooth highway of success!

Age Quod Agis! (do what you are doing: concentrate on the task at hand).

Giel de Villiers is an FNA member and pensioner. He has been associated with education for 46 years, especially in his capacity as Mathematics teacher and provincial examiner and moderator for the Mathematics Senior Certificate. He served at Grey College Secondary School, Unitas High School in Welkom, Kroonstad High School and the Free State Education Bureau. He was principal of the Afrikaans High School Kroonstad, Sand du Plessis High School in Bloemfontein and principal of the Free State Centre for Enrichment Education.

Subsequently he progressively served in the following positions:

  • Director: Curriculum Services for the Free State Department of Education;
  • Project Manager for the national Department of Education, assigned to monitor Free State schools’ implementation of IQMS;
  • Founding Director of the Schools Advancement Academy at the Central University of Technology, Free State;
  • Currently he still serves on the Advisory Board of the Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC) attached to Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.

Kerbside waste collection and landfill management

Unfortunately, after our previous meeting, we as the Fichardt Park Neighbourhood Association (FNA) are disappointed about the service we as rate payers are receiving from the Mangaung Metro Municipality. Kerbside waste collection is never as scheduled as per your municipal Waste Management By-laws as well as the National Environmental Management Waste Act No. 59 of 2008, and it is obvious that waste management in Mangaung is in dismal state. The FNA receives public complaints on a daily basis seeing that they cannot reach the Municipality to complain about the waste management situation.

According the National Environmental Management Waste Act No. 59 of 2008 the Metro need to keep to their scheduled kerbside waste collection (See Government Gazette, 21 January 2011, Paragraph 9). For the past couple years the services that was supposed to be rendered was 80% + not on schedule, relating to local littering and waste pollution in gutters ending up in the drainage system polluting the rivers and transported to the ocean. Refuse bags are torn open by Street Pickers and stray animals because of neglected kerbside waste removal. Indirectly the MMM contravenes the National Environmental Management Waste Act No. 59 of 2008,(Collection of household waste)  National Water Act 36 of 1998 and the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 by polluting river systems.

Excuses such as labour issues, lack of adequate budget, fuel, and a lack of enough collection vehicles are given. Each household need to pay a monthly total levy of R172.08 + Vat of R25.51= R197.89 for waste removal. Fichardt Park have 2791 households. As you are aware, Fichardt Park is one of the best contributors to the rates and taxes of Mangaung. Take into account that the 2791 residents withhold their R197.89 for waste removal monthly that is in total R552 310.99 per month? The community feels that they pay for a service that they do not get and request the FNA to arrange refuse removal. The FNA can render this service at less than R6 000.00 per week = R24 000.00 per month?

Landfill Sites:

Complaints from residents from Fauna, Lourier Park, Pellissier, Fleural and Fichardt Park were received about the Southern Landfill site that are burning for some time now, resulting in bad odour contributing to unhealthy situations in these areas, depending on the wind direction. Community members complains that no actions are taken after numerous complaints were registered or that they just do not get any answer from the Metro?

Observing the management of the Southern Landfill Site, it is obvious that very little to no management is taking place. Access control is very limited and most of the time there is no access control at all. The security at the Landfill Site is non-existent resulting in criminal activities such as arson, vandalism and robbery. The Metro is supposed to keep record of all waste entering and exiting landfill sites and must be recorded on SAWIS. Seeing the present situation, non-functioning weighbridge for years, inefficient access control, and reports to DESTEA and National Environmental Affairs on the SAWIS is totally incorrect.

Again the Mangaung Metro Municipality is contravening numerous national legislation as well as the Metro’s own By-laws as well as the waste license conditions. .

  • National Environmental Management Waste Act No. 59 of 2008
  • Norms and Standards of Storing of Waste
  • National Environment Management: Air Quality Act, No. 39 of 2004:
  • National Water Act, Act No. 36, 1998
  • Chapter 8 of the Municipal Systems Act;
  • Art 24 South Africa Constitution
  • Mangaung Waste By-laws

Below is visuals of the Southern Landfill Site as on the 3rd June 2020:

The question is, are the landfill managers qualified for such an important management action?  How is the Mangaung Metro going to rectify these challenges?

Looking at the media and other information, it is clear that officials (Labour Unions?), are keeping the Mangaung Metro hostage over overtime payments and salaries. Looking at the present situation it is clear that there are no commitment (Apathy) from officials even in this very difficult time in South Africa with the COVID 19 pandemic, unemployment and poverty.

The FNA suggest that the MMM urgently look at the outsourcing of waste management in general and look at the City of Jo’Burg model of outsourcing through Pick-it-Up.

Before the FNA and other Stakeholders go into legal actions we as the FNA would like to know what the plans are to rectify above challenges and by when. We are very willing to assist the Metro and bring our part to make this metro a model. Nobody has to go to Zimbabwe to look at effective waste management (Media statement Mangaung: Issue 31, News Update, July 2019) while in South Africa we do have metro municipalities that can advise the MMM on sustainable and effective waste management.

Regards,

Duart Hugo, FNA Director


Fichardt Park’s gardening community

The Gardening Club was started solely for the purpose of job creation. It has now developed into a platform where members seek advice on all plant species, exchange plants and inspire each other to beautify their gardens.

Our Fichardt Park Gardening Club now boasts with 79 members who have joined and it is still growing and members are enjoying it to the point of providing each other with advice. Even the beginners benefit greatly from all the information provided.

When we are out of the grip of the pandemic, the Gardening Club intends to start beautifying Fichardt Park and the members cannot wait to start. Get involved by contacting Alma at 060 567 3572

While we wait, here are some tips and tricks.

Winter gardening in the free state

Winter is coming on strong but that doesn’t mean you should hang up your gardening tools. Most of South Africa is fortunate to have clear and sunny days during the coldest season of the year, making winter gardening perfectly possible.

You may think that winter is the perfect time to give your green fingers a rest, yet there are many plants and veggies that thrive during this chilly time of the year. So just in case you were wondering what you can do to tie your garden over until spring arrives, read on!

 Change your garden layout

Winter reveals the bones of your garden with (most of) its leaves and florals stripped away – the perfect opportunity to consider another layout. In dry areas (i.e. Free State), winter is the ideal time to build or erect a pergola or archway, redo the paths and redesign the beds. Take the opportunity to level sloping, uneven areas and build steps to link different levels.

 Get pruning

Using garden shears or a clean pair of scissors, remove any withered or dead foliage from plants and flowers. Similarly, prune overgrowing branches or stems from trees and shrubs. Besides for improving the overall appearance of your garden, pruning will improve the plant’s health and yield by allowing for the even distribution of nutrients.

For many plants, the best time for pruning is when they’re dormant. Apples, pears, and many roses fall into this category – fail to prune in winter and you’ll be pruning for failure after winter. Once plants become dormant and the leaves have fallen, shape and prune them if necessary. Shrubs and perennials like salvias, Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’, pink and white spiraea, wild ginger, mock orange, hydrangea and buddleja, which have become too big and woody, can be reduced by a third to half, depending on the available space.

Cut raspberries, blackberries and herbs that died down such as lemon balm, mint and thyme, right down to the base and prune roses, fruit trees and wisteria.

Lift the crowns of trees to let in more light. Remove the lower branches one by one and stand back between each cut to check the effect. Remove broken and dead branches.

Feeding and mulching

Do this right after pruning. Remove the annuals that have finished flowering then work compost and organic pellets into the beds. If the soil drains well, work these lightly into the top 3–5cm. If the soil is clay or rocky, dig in compost to at least a fork’s depth, but take care not to disturb the roots of plants. After feeding, cover the beds with a layer of mulch.

Plant some winter annuals

There’s no reason why your garden needs to be a dead oasis for 3+ months every year. Seeds of petunia, dianthus, African daisy, Bokbaai vygie, Iceland poppies, violas, pansies, foxgloves, and snapdragon have proven to be quite hardy to frost! There’s no reason you can’t add colour to your garden in winter. Seedlings of these flowers are readily available for immediate planting: stocks, Iceland poppies, violas, pansies, foxgloves, snapdragons, Bellis perennis, sweet Williams and primulas (Primula malacoides, P. obconica and P. acaulis). Plant them in beds, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Winter flowering plants should be planted in April or May to bloom in time for winter. In fact, April is widely celebrated as ‘Garden Month’, making it the perfect time to start prepping for your very own winter garden!

What to Plant

Given the right amount of nutrients, there are plenty crops which do best in the cooler months. Consider setting aside a part of your garden for growing these delicious fruits and veggies:

  • Apples
  • Cauliflower
  • Pears
  • Carrots
  • Peaches
  • Broad beans
  • Nectarines
  • Kale
  • Micro greens
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Snap peas

Flowering plants

Winter gardens needn’t be elaborate – even a potful of pansies can bring beauty to the dreariest of surroundings. Brighten up your winter garden with these winter flowering plants:

  • Azaleas
  • Phlox
  • Camellias
  • Proteas
  • Daisies
  • Roses
  • Gladiolus
  • Snapdragons
  • Pansies
  • Strelitzias
  • Primulas
  • Tulips

Besides for these colourful flowers, you might consider decorating your flower pots with paint or coloured twine, for example. Aloes, cacti and succulents also make excellent accent plants and are available in various vibrant shades.

What to Harvest

If the seeds have been sowed in time, enjoy the taste of the season by harvesting some fresh fruit and veg straight from your garden. The following crops are in season during winter:

  • Apples
  • Butternut
  • Avocados
  • Beetroot
  • Grapefruit
  • Broccoli
  • Naartjies
  • Cabbage
  • Oranges
  • Cauliflower
  • Quavas
  • Spinach

Tidy it up

Thinking of gardening as “basically cleaning outside and just as satisfying” is a great mindset, specifically during winter. So, see the next few months as an opportunity to zhoosh up your outdoor spaces by keeping it as neat and clean as possible via raking, pruning, etc.

It goes without saying that weeds should also be removed from the garden. While it may be tempting to reach for a chemical solution, we recommend using eco-friendlier remedies. Here is a homemade herbicide recipe that’s really easy to make. Simply mix four cups of white vinegar with one cup of salt and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap. Then spray this solution over the weeds, preferably on a sunny day, taking care to protect any nearby desirable plants.

The quieter winter months are also an opportune time to do some general maintenance work around the garden. Rake up any remaining autumn leaves, spring clean your garden shed or greenhouse, give the outdoor garden furniture a good wipe down and clean all your gardening tools and equipment.

Keep your tools clean

Now’s the ideal time to give your gardening tools a decent cleaning before spring arrives, particularly the more popular ones like rakes, pruners, watering cans, etc. This should be considered vital for everyone with a garden since pots, spades, shoes and glass panes all house various pests (fungal, viral, and bacterial), not to mention insects.

The more tools you have, the more time you’re going to have to devote to this task.

Protect from the cold and frost

The Free State is prone to frost in winter, be sure not to plant anything that’s not frost hardy unless you’re prepared to go the extra mile in terms of maintenance and protection. Plants susceptible to frost need to be covered with lightweight horticultural fleece which can be picked up from garden centres. This should be done by 15h00 and removed the next day by 09h00. You can also use cardboard or wigwams made from hessian or grass. If seedlings have been frosted, water them early before the sun reaches them so that they thaw out slowly.

But what about those branches, leaves and shrubs that are already beginning to show signs of frost? Whatever you do, don’t cut them off. Rather leave them until the most dangerous time for frost has passed, as they help to protect the plants from additional winter damage.

Another way to protect your garden from frost and icy winds is to plant or build windbreaks.

Watering

Water ornamentals and lawns once or twice a week, preferably early in the day. Don’t leave sprinklers and irrigation systems on overnight, as the water can freeze and damage both pipes and plants. However, you can water in the late afternoon, as studies have shown that water raises soil temperature and won’t cause damage to plants. But water on leaves can freeze in extreme cold, causing damage. Always put hosepipes away before dark. If yours is frozen don’t move it until it has thawed, as it may crack and break.

Winter gardens don’t need as much water as their summer counterparts. Lawns can be watered once every two to three weeks. Most low water-use plants should only be watered once every two months, while moderate water-use plants need only be watered once a month. High water-use plants will need to be watered 2-3 times every fortnight.

Harsh winter conditions can take it’s toll on the soil. Spreading mulch in your garden will help protect the soil from damage caused by wind, cold or frost. Mulches also protect the ground from soil erosion and compaction from heavy rains.

Spruce up a little indoor garden

It’s not uncommon to find households with more interior plants than outside ones. So, see winter as the ideal time to turn your attention to the potted pretties inside your house. Talk to them (as you normally would), give them a once over for issues, tidy up those dead leaves, ensure they get as much (or as little) sun as they need, and consider re-potting them towards the end of winter.


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