Mayor unbundles ‘unwieldy’ water and waste; rings administration changes

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has made several changes to the City’s directorates and the administration.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has unveiled a plan to unbundle the “cumbersome” water and waste directorate, rename the transport directorate, and restructure the City manager’s office, among other changes to the organisational structure.

Mr Hill-Lewis tabled his proposal of an organisational review of the macro structure and the office of the City manager at a drama-filled, last virtual council meeting of the year on Wednesday December 15.

The new organisational design sees, among other changes, the renaming of the transport directorate to “urban mobility” directorate and the split of the water and waste directorate.

The ANC was sceptical about the cost implications of this move.

The new urban mobility directorate bears no functional changes and the name-change is to reflect the broader needs of the transport system, Mr Hill-Lewis said.

On the water directorate’s renaming, he said this was to prioritise this office and ensure “a greater degree of resilience to future drought shocks and increased responsiveness to service delivery requests”.

The City has been challenged by sewage bursts and pipe leaks in several parts of the city.

The mayor recommended that council approve his mayoral committee-backed restructuring plan, which will be tabled for implementation on February 1 2022.

The plan will also re-designate the director of water and waste to the new title of water director; director for energy and climate change will become the director for energy; director for transport has changed to director for urban mobility; and the title for director for economic opportunities and asset management will be replaced by director for economic growth.

Furthermore, Mr Hill-Lewis recommended the establishment of the future planning and resilience directorate and urban waste management in the City manager’s office.

The plan allows council to do away with the urban management directorate and approve the position of “portfolio manager probity” be changed to director: combined assurance and governance.

The reporting lines for the director of combined assurance and governance, forensic services chief, risk, ethics and governance chief, internal audit chief and the ombudsman will be shifted to the City manager.

The proposed organogram will comprise the City manager and 12 executive director positions, including a chief financial officer and to-be-advertised director positions for corporate services, safety and security, community services and health, human settlements, spatial planning and environment, urban mobility, and energy.

Other director positions are for these directorates: water, urban waste management, economic growth, future planning and resilience, the latter of which will be linked to the chief data and chief resilience officers.

Mr Hill-Lewis said: “Lessons have been learnt over the last term of the council that inform proposed changes to the macro organisational design.

“Improved service delivery across core mandates, including water, waste and energy is the foundation of improving the lives of all residents and is the enabler of economic growth and job creation.”

He said the strategy’s mandates require stand-alone directorates, such as urban management. The mayor said the city has been changing rapidly and his leadership needed to respond accordingly.

ANC caucus leader councillor Xolani Sotashe said the water name-change was an indictment on former mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg. “This particular directorate was a disaster in terms of performance,” he said.

“Don’t you think by splitting this directorate is not a question of co-ordinating services that will have an impact on our people, but to further put strain on the budget of the City because all these directorates have to have a leader and that will be accompanied by budget implications?”

Mr Hill-Lewis said: “That department is too big, cumbersome and unwieldy to give it the kind of attention to fix its problems.”

He said the two departments require a lot of attention because of clogged sewage systems, late waste collection and inadequate waste collection in informal settlements.

Drama unfolded after Mr Sotashe and EFF chief whip Mzubanzi Dambuza accused Speaker Felicity Purchase of skimming through the rules and bullying them out of debating, with the Speaker ejecting one EFF member and an ANC councillor threatening to collapse the sitting.

After yet another round of shouting with the speaker, Mr Sotashe was eventually allowed to ask for the proposal’s cost implications. Mr Hill-Lewis said there cost is “tiny” and there were “micro changes” that would come with the plan.

The plan was adopted. The GOOD party rejected it.