OUTA LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO PUSH BACK AGAINST DECAY OF JOHANNESBURG
OUTA has officially launched a new initiative in the City of Johannesburg (COJ) to empower and mobilise Johannesburg residents to hold the City’s administration accountable. The Joburg Community Action Network (JoburgCAN) will provide a platform for resident associations, businesses and other forums with a clear stake in the city’s affairs, to strategise and combine efforts to find solutions for issues affecting residents in the Johannesburg metro.
JoburgCAN will seek solution for issues like the flawed CoJ 2023 General Valuations Roll, while lobbying for better enforcement of city bylaws and health and safety regulations, as well as greater transparency in how the city raises and spends its capital and operating budgets. JoburgCAN is already actively involved in finding solutions for the city’s water crisis. Along with OUTA and WaterCAN (OUTA’s water division), it also forms part of the Joburg Crisis Committee as a strategic partner.
About 40 resident associations, representing a large portion of the city’s regions, attended the launch in August 2023 and expressed their support for JoburgCAN.
The initiative will focus on organising, empowering and enabling local community structures to become more efficient in their role in the Metro. Whilst JoburgCAN projects will be strategic and focussed on making an impact benefiting a broad community base, community organisations will still be free to address challenges that directly affect them in their own suburbs and communities.
Kleynhans emphasised that JoburgCAN will remain apolitical and free from any political party affiliation or interference. “We undertake to hold authorities accountable, no matter who is in power.”
JoburgCAN aims to:
• Facilitate community engagement sessions and networking.
• Develop a community leadership forum.
• Create solutions to strengthen community structures.
• Educate community leaders about local government affairs.
• Drive initiatives common to participating community associations.
• Establish strong relations with the municipal administration.
• Set up an 'Association of Associations' (umbrella body) to coordinate community activities.
Working together as a collective and collaborating on finding and implementing solutions for problems is the foundation of South Africa’s participatory constitutional democracy, and initiatives such as JoburgCAN celebrate this.
“For real change to happen, people should unite and work for the greater good of all residents. Together, Joburg residents can play a much bigger and more meaningful role in the running of our city that will extend beyond the five-year election cycles,” says Kleynhans.
In its current scope, and with the support of affiliates, JoburgCAN will create a full-time team that will focus on the following:
• Oversight of COJ’s fiduciary duties & responsibilities
Attend pertinent council meetings and public engagement sessions to ensure the City’s authorities are attending to the finances, development, and management of the Metro, in accordance with the Municipal Finance Management Act, as well as their commitments to the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and other matters decided on by the council.
• Engage with COJ officials on pertinent issues
JoburgCAN will always seek to first engage with City officials in its quest to have corrective action applied and to seek the best solutions for problems. We believe that a lot of positive change that will benefit both the City and its residents can come from the building of good relationships with COJ officials.
• Strategic campaigns and action on high-impact issues
If the city management conducts its affairs in an unlawful manner or not in line with citizens' rights or the best interest of the residents/businesses, JoburgCAN will contemplate a variety of corrective action options and campaigns to address this.
• Assisting community associations with their development
JoburgCAN has a “community association solution” to assist resident and community associations in growing their relevance and membership support within their areas, thus enabling them to become stronger.
• Build networks and relationships between communities.
JoburgCAN believes that when communities network and work together, they can share best practices and engage on forums that offer guidance, assistance, and collective knowledge that improves the situation within communities in a responsible and efficient manner.
• Facilitate activation teams for improving Johannesburg.
JoburgCAN will seek to introduce “activation” teams and initiatives that will share resources and assist communities to improve their neighbourhoods and communities when it comes to maintenance of parks, roads, signage etc.
Johannesburg is in a bad state, but JoburgCAN believes that it is possible to turn the city around, provided communities take hands and work together. Kleynhans says the idea is not to take over the City’s responsibilities. “The City’s mandate is very clear – it must ensure proper service whilst maintaining infrastructure and without wasting money. But if residents and businesses want to make sure this happens, we all need to get involved. We all want to live in a city that is cleaner, safer and cheaper to live in, but we need citizens to get put their weight behind their respective community organisations to drive the much-needed change.”
Community organisations and resident associations who would like to get involved can click here.