Vibrant debate and frank discussions were the order of the day at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as investors and developers shared their experiences and grievances about doing business in the Bay during a consultative session with the Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Cllr Mongameli Bobani on Wednesday, 5 June 2019.
Executive Mayor Bobani, was accompanied by top municipal teams from both the political and administrative leadership. He made it very clear to the audience of key role-players in the property development business within the City to be open and frank in putting their views forth.
In his keynote address, the Executive Mayor emphasised that it was the serious intention of the Municipality to make doing business and investing in the city easier and quicker and cut some of the red tape.
Pointing out the vast opportunities awaiting in the city: “In discharging its responsibility for promoting economic development in the city, the institution will be exploring the economic opportunities that could be unlocked in the oceans economy and township, tourism and creative arts industries, in partnership with relevant stakeholders”, he said.
Cllr Bobani also stated his confidence that a flourishing and vibrant business sector could assist in realising the priorities identified during IDP and Budget public participation meetings, such as service delivery, the revival and growth of the economy of the City; and the empowerment of local SMMEs.
Mayor Bobani did no shy away from the problems existing. “One of our challenges has been registering property. In terms of this indicator, the city performed above average and was rated fifth best in the country. However, the Municipality will need to address the time taken to issue rates clearance certificates in order to perform better. This is a city of champions who have made their mark on the national and international arena. It is a wonderful product to market and develop. I assure you, whether you are an investor or a developer that wants to develop or exploit that potential, that you can count on our support and assistance”, he said.
“Your success in business and development will assist us in alleviating the scourge of unemployment and poverty”, Cllr Bobani concluded.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, 640 000 people are living in poverty, in terms of ECSECC 2017 figures, which is 15.98% higher than the 552 000 in 2006, while unemployment rate currently stands at 36.8%. The executive Mayor vowed that his administration would use its budget and that of other government departments to create much-needed jobs, particularly for young people. The focus on service delivery would include the building and maintenance of roads, infrastructure, electricity networks and refuse removal.
Bellingham Property owner, Jacques Bellingham, raised the concern that the development of the city was hindered by the high rates and cost of electric connections. “This Municipality needs to review its processes – and investment will follow naturally”, he commented.
A key outcome of the deliberations was the undertaking by the Municipality that a special task team would be appointed to monitor the concerns raised around investment processes and unsupervised and incompetent municipal employees.
Other initiatives to be undertaken based on the deliberations and concerns raised, included:
- Removal of land monopoly to allow black and young investors or developers to flourish.
- A review of municipal policies, as some are not aligned to the national sphere. Red tape must be cut during the alignment processes to reduce timespans.
- The prioritisation of the safety and security of people, especially after hours, to avoid lifeless central business areas.
- Eradicating a silo mentality, which is a key factor in the slow pace of service delivery and red tape.
- Filling of critical vacancies to ensure that municipal systems are effective.