“With the cancellation of community meetings, the public should understand and adapt to new ways of doing things. Although we are prohibited to meeting community members physically, we should understand that government programmes should not be halted.” These are the words of Musina Municipal Manager, Nathi Tshiwanammbi after the municipality has invited only written comments for their Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and budget for the new financial year which starts on 01 July.

Tshiwanammbi says during this time every year, the municipality goes out to the communities in all 12 wards to present the IDP and budget so that people can make inputs. “In line with Disaster Management Act during the Covid 19 pandemic, we will not be able to meet our communities out there. This does not mean that our communities and stakeholders should not be given an opportunity to submit their inputs. Covid 19 has forced us to change our normal way of doing things but at the same time teaching us that we should always be prepared for any eventuality that could disturb our planning.”

He said the municipality has used various platforms to publicise the IDP and budget documents so that people can be able to access them. “We have issued bulk smses to our approximately 5 000 subscribers to advise them on how we are going to move with the IDP and budget this time. We have also made sure that the documents are loaded in our website and Facebook page. We went an extra mile by circulating the notices on various community WhatsApp groups. We are mindful that there are people who could not access social media and we have made sure that we place hard copies in all municipal offices. This is to make sure that everyone is privy to the information which will then help us in planning for the coming financial year. We have no other alternative but to do things differently until the coronavirus crises come to an end. We have given the public to submit their inputs until the end of this month (May).”

He urged community members to do everything possible to make sure that their written inputs are submitted to the municipality. “Things have changed within a very short space of time and we have to adapt. We want to avoid a situation where people will complain that they have not been consulted in the planning activities of the municipality. However, we are now doing it in a different way because of the global Covid 19 pandemic.”