On Monday morning the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des Van Rooyen MP, met with officials from the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan Municipality, including the Executive Mayor, the Deputy Executive mayor, The Speaker and the Chief Whip, together with the Acting City manager and various COGTA officials.
After the meeting the minister released the following statement:
We reviewed progress with the Section 154 intervention and the extent to which the new leadership of the Metro has been able to turn around the administration.
I have to say that I am extremely impressed with the level of progress made. In a comparatively short space of time, the Executive mayor has been able to reach out to communities across the Metro and to rebuild their faith in the ability of the Metro to address their needs. The recent Mayoral Imbizo programme has had an overwhelming level of participation and this is helping to reconnect government with the people it is meant to serve.
The City Manager and his team have started to make a noticeable impact on service delivery in this Metro. Already I have noticed that the city is looking cleaner and the people I have spoken to have given me positive feedback on the changes that are being made. There is a new accountability for service delivery and performance in the Metro. I would like to encourage all the staff working in the Metro to continue the good work and to make sure that we deliver on our mandate as local government
The city’s finances have shown a corresponding improvement. The portfolio chairperson for Budget & Treasury briefed us on the city’s financial position and I am pleased to note that the city has moved from a deficit position in the previous financial year, to a cash positive position in excess of R1 billion. This means that the finances of the city have stabilized and in fact the metro is in a position to start accelerating service delivery.
As you are all aware there have previously been a number of investigations conducted into fraud and corruption in the metro. This includes the national treasury funded forensic investigation into the IPTS and a forensic investigation into the Human Settlements directorate, conducted by the National department of Human Settlements.
These investigations have identified a worrying, collusive set of practices between officials, companies and politicians. What I have been particularly impressed with is the forthright manner in which the Executive Mayor, Council and the administration has dealt with the outcomes of these investigations. A number of disciplinary cases are underway involving in all 19 cases and many of these cases have already been concluded and appropriate sanctions implemented.
It is important that we allow due process to follow its course and in complying with the labour law of this country, some of these cases take longer than we might like to resolve.
The city is also pursuing civil claims against a number of companies which have been involved in fraud and corruption and I am satisfied that all the steps that are required to be taken in terms of legislation are in fact being undertaken.
The Executive Mayor has also briefed me on the enormous economic potential that is inherent in the city’s abundant natural assets. This includes the Port Elizabeth waterfront development which has been in the planning stages for many years. I have undertaken to assist the Metro with the process of expediting the relocation of the manganese terminal and tank farm so that this game changing investment can take place and we can create sustainable jobs and economic growth for our people.
On Friday last week the President was here to launch Operation Phakisa and as an important Indian Ocean port, with connections to both east and west, I firmly believe that we can capitalize on the strategic location of Port Elizabeth and make the Ocean economy the defining feature of Nelson Mandela Bay.
We will continue our programme of Section 154 support. We will meet on at least a quarterly basis through the political steering committee, that includes my colleagues, the MEC for Provincial COGTA and the Ministers for Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements. The political steering committee will review progress with the intervention on ongoing basis and ensure that we are able to meet the needs of our people and the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay.
I would like to thank all of the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay for the dignified way in which they participated in the recent voter registration weekend. The logistical arrangements for this registration were carried out professionally and without hitch and all of the IEC staff, the Metropolitan administration and political parties deserve a round of applause.
As you know the 3rd of August is the date that the President has set for the local government elections to take place. In order to strengthen our democracy it is important that every registered voter exercises their constitutional right to vote and I want to encourage all the communities of Nelson Mandela Bay to take full advantage of this opportunity and elect a political leadership with the capacity to take this municipality to the next level.