Working Together – The start of Masiphathisane

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By Thozi Ngeju: Community Coordinator

MobiSAM’s duty is smoothing communication between residents and the municipality. It’s a bit of good fortune that the Premier’s Office decided to initiate Operation Masiphathisane (let’s work together), because MobiSAM has managed to secure seats in the War Room committees in almost all the wards in Makana Municipality.

Masiphathisane is a programme that seeks to help government departments work together. In order to do this, they have to be on the ground. This means that Masiphathisane had to initiate a spin off programme – War Room committees in each municipality, in each ward. These war rooms are aimed at providing Ward Councillors and Community Development Workers (CDWs) with support and direction from the local ward war room, consisting of a diversity of key stakeholders who know the main issues associated with each ward in the area.

Initiated in early December 2016, this process is most certainly going to be an interesting journey, judging from the amount of effort to try to motivate citizens to mobilise and put War Rooms together. Citizens have been reluctant to participate, as similar programmes have come and gone – considering the mobilisation of key stakeholders, there reamins hope that things may change.

Efforts to mobilise citizens has been a challenging learning curve. As such I hope Masiphathisane will be correcting all the mistakes done before as a way of learning from previous engagement projects. Being grassroots based, I hope it will work from the bottom up instead of following the standard top down routine.

I know MobiSAM has built a proud brand based on integrity and we hope that our presence in these War Rooms makes it easier for residents and the municipality to communicate. I know one of our War Room Ward representatives has just picked up a crusade in his area that will test the effectiveness of Masiphathisane. In X-Street (Tantyi Location, Grahamstown) there’s a corner with a hedge, next to the hedge there’s burst sewerage pipeline. Worse still, rubbish is being dumped on top of the leaking sewerage. The hedge is reputedly a nice spot for robbers to keep warm until they can lighten the pockets of the next victims when they come by.

To speculate: I’m sure rubbish collectors think that’s the Sewerage Division’s job and the Sewerage Division claim they can’t do anything until the rubbish is removed. There’s not much that can be done about the hedge. Nonetheless, there are particular stakeholders that should be held accountable to address the issue – this begs the question: is it citizens, or is it government?

With all the above mentioned (and more) stakeholders in the War Room, solutions for problems such as the aforementioned should be reached collectively. It is in these processes that MobiSAM will be present to facilitate communication via our representatives elected as Ward Liaisons that reside in a ward, as well as in the Local War Room to highlight a particular problems and possible solutions.

There are many instances where whether Masiphathisane is going to work or not can be tested. But let’s not belabour that point. What’s important is that the Premier’s Office has initiated a programme. The test of the Mayor’s suitability for office is going to be seen by whether the War Rooms she’s championing will help restore resident’s faith in civil servants.

Masiphathisane is one of those programmes in which MobiSAM can truly find an effective position in supporting citizen engagement and building government responsiveness. Key to Masiphathisane’s function is that civil servants and residents can work in harmony to make their municipality a clean, livable environment for all citizens.


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