Sub-council 2 in series of meetings with City

SOYISO MALITI

Xanthea Limberg, the City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for corporate services, visited the Sub-council 2 chambers to talk to councillors about C3 notifications and staffing matters in various directorates, on Monday night March 7.

The sitting preceded two meetings, with upcoming visits from Mayco members Benedicta van Minnen, of the human settlements directorate, and Johan van der Merwe, of energy, environmental and spatial planning, on Thursday evening March 17 at the youth centre on Eoan Avenue, Scottsdene, and on Tuesday April 12 at the Brackenfell community hall in Paradys Street, respectively.

Sub-council 2 plans to meet several members of the mayoral committee, including Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, to discuss contentious issues, such as the limited staff at traffic services and related issues, and surveillance cameras in Kraaifontein.

In the meeting, attended by three committee members for wards 7 and 111, Grant Twigg, Sub-council 2 chairman and Ward 7 councillor, said the visit by Ms Limberg stems from the last sub-council meeting, on February 17 , where it was announced the councillors would meet with a number of Mayco members, to discuss thorny issues related to the sub-council.

* C3s, staffing matters

Highlighting staffing shortages and succession issues, municipal manager, Fred Monk, said it took up to four months to fill a post and “sometimes even longer”, owing to the City’s human resources department’s red tape. He urged Ms Limberg to investigate how the “frustrating process” could be shortened.

Mr Monk said this affected service delivery. Ms Limberg promised the City would look at how they can minimise the period it takes to do appointments.

She conceded that City appointments is a time-consuming process, adding that the City employs 27 000 people, with the wage bill coming to R9 billion a year.

Ms Limberg said the City prioritised its staff for senior posts but is in a difficult position with prospects relating to senior vacancies.

She said the City was often forced to advertise externally for posts with a scarce skills component attached and would look to employ from outside, which takes time.

She stressed that employees were also given an opportunity and encouraged to take up senior posts when available.

Furthermore, Ms Limberg said the City had an intensive workplace skills programme with a budget of R100 billion a year.

On C3s, Ms Limberg said there was some truth in that delays are related to the shortages of staff working for the City.

She said there were over 20 000 C3 notifications logged on its call centre a day and a million phone calls received by the City a year.

Mr Monk and Mr Twigg said there was a need to address underperforming staff, instead of moving them to different departments.

Using the example of professional soccer window periods where you can’t move a player to another club until a certain period of time has passed, Mr Twigg wanted to know if the same could be done to avoid employees being moved around the whole time, which “affected planning”.

Ms Limberg, however, said the “window system” could prove tricky.

* Safety and security, traffic services

Mr Monk highlighted the lack of traffic officers in the northern suburbs, saying there were only 12 officers covering the Area North, which includes Kraaifontein and Kuils River, among others.

He said while the officers did some enforcement in problem areas, “it couldn’t be continuous”.

ANC proportional representative councillor, Gert Moolman, emphasised the need for traffic services to be bolstered and prioritised in previously disadvantaged communities than in areas such as Milnerton.

Mr Twigg said he believed the northern areas of the city were “inadequately staffed” in certain departments.

Mr Monk said the safety and security discussion would be carried over to the meeting with Mr Smith, which is yet to be given a date.

Ms Limberg said while she didn’t have the traffic services figure with her, she could say the directorate had been faced with many demands.

lLibrary services

Mr Twigg lamented the fact that there was a small number of staff members made available for their budgets. He said it needed to be reviewed that staffers were mostly volunteers throughout the city.

* Wage increases, budget

Ms Limberg said the City faced numerous difficulties in human resources-related issues with regards to staff. Chief among these is the risk “when faced with (wage-related) negotiations”. She said the council wasn’t in control of the increases and that the South African Local Government Association deals with wages.

Ms Limberg, however, said wage increases were unsustainable in the current economic climate.

She commended the sub-council for its responsible use of the budget.

The sub-council will meet on with Ms Van Minnen tomorrow, Thursday March 17, at 6pm.