Westonaria Local Municipality, in partnership with the Presidency Office, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and National Youth Development Agency hosted this year’s Arbor Week today, 18 September 2015 as part of celebrating this day in Westonaria Borwa Township.
The occasion was graced by the Deputy Minister, Hon Buti Manamela, Executive Mayor, Cllr. Nonkoliso Tundzi, Local MMC’s, Councilors and Officials from Gauteng Department of Health and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The programme started with unannounced and surprise visit to Simunye Clinic as part of Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Programme.
Under the theme “Forest and People-Investing in our Future”, the focus of the event was on greening the area. The entourage led by the Deputy Minister planted about six ceremonial trees. The department has donated 1745 fruit and indigenous trees to the community. About 820 trees have already been planted and the rest will be further planted. The vegetable food garden was handed over to eight (8) beneficiaries.
Deputy Minister said as young people we, especially, should be concerned about the state of our environment. We should be looking at ways in which we can protect and nurture the environment so that we can reap its benefits now and for generations to come.
“Observing and celebrating Arbor Day, reflecting on the role that trees and community vegetable gardens play is an important step towards protecting our environment. Today’s young people should be heavily invested in ensuring that our environment is treated with respect” Deputy Minister concludes.
“We would like to express our thanks to all government departments and AfricaGrow for making this day a success. We have decided to use this celebration of Arbor Week in order to plant tree, promote and create a better life for residents of Westonaria Borwa,” said the Executive Mayor, Councilor Nonkoliso Tundzi.
Arbor week is an annual event that is celebrated from 1 to 7 September. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of trees, preserve indigenous trees throughout the country. It highlights the opportunities for sustainable economic development especially in the field of nurseries, community participation, poverty alleviation and job creation.
The event ended with a formal programme where Youths came in numbers to obtain information and be informed on how to access economic opportunities in Gauteng.
NYDA Executive Chairperson, Yershen Pillay gave a speech about Mara Mento Initiative Programme. This is an online community that connects ambitious entrepreneurs with experienced and inspiring business leaders. The initiative encourages idea and knowledge sharing among Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs, inspiring a collaborative approach to business start-up and growth.
Westonaria Local Municipality is conducting indigent registrations for the underprivileged and or residents who cannot afford to pay for the services they consumed. This privilege is entitled to all households with a monthly income of R2800, 00 and less.
To date, a total number of 3571 households have been approved by the Council of which home owners get access to:
- Free water per month
- Free electricity per month
- Access to reliable toilet services and facilities
- And waste removal facilities.
This intervention is currently taking place in all areas of Westonaria and at the municipality offices. The purpose of this roll out is to ensure that irrespective of one’s unfortunate background he or she can get basic services for free.
Indigent, as defined by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) is “a system that operates at a local government level, relating to the provision of benefits in kind respect of basic services including water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal”.
Two beneficiaries who were interviewed by News Team for Council declared that the process does in fact make a difference. Thembinkosi Mlambo (64) a resident from Westonaria Borwa went on to say that “I was worried how I would pay for my services with the pension money I receive. It was not enough to cater for my grandchildren school fees, the food and the services we consume on a monthly basis”.
Another resident from the Bekkersdal Township, Sinah Maphumlo (57) praises the improvement the Municipality is making in meeting the communities halfway. Sinah further adds that “this exercise reduces burden carried by indigent households”.
Should you be one of those in need, you should apply for Indigent at your area during the registration sessions including coming to the Westonaria Local Municipality building to register.
MMC for Finance and LED, Councilor Alex Ntshiba declared that this exercise is very good initiative where municipality is supporting needy households.
“I must however raise the fact that within this process there are some that are dishonest as they hide their incomes. There are some people who owns flats, tenants or won small business like spaza shop and claim to be indigent, forgetting that they are denying relevant people an opportunity to get free services, he said.”
“We need to work together and those that are in a position to pay for services must pay for their services they consumed while those having a monthly income of R2800, 00 and less a household must come and register for indigent, MMC concludes.”