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Mandela Bay Development Agency | Nelson Mandela Bay | Port Elizabeth | Uitenhage | Despatch | South Africa


  Dr Danny Jordaan, at a full sitting of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Council on Thursday, 4 June

2015-06-05 11:52:48 AM

Statement by Executive Mayor, Dr Danny Jordaan, at a full sitting of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Council on Thursday, 4 June at the Uitenhage Indoor Sports Centre.

Madame Speaker,

Deputy Executive Mayor,

Chief Whip,

Leadership of the alliance,

Honourable Councillors,

Ward Committee members,

Officials,

Members of the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. Molweni. Goeiemôre.

 

I would like to thank you for the warm reception that I received from you since last week. With your friendly embrace and enthusiastic messages of congratulations and encouragement I am painfully aware of our collective responsibility to you, the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay. A responsibilitythat has inspired us to hit the ground running, as the time for business as usual is over and we are ready to lead. This city is in my blood and as I said before, I grew up here, I learned my politics here, I played non-racial sport here, and now I am honoured by the ANC to be in the driving seat to steer Nelson Mandela Bay in the direction of efficiency, transparency and to make it a truly competitive global city for the benefit of all.

 

Even though I have never really left Nelson Mandela Bay, my appointment was a true homecoming of some sorts and a very special moment.

 

But more significantly, I am humbled by your enthusiasm when we took Council to New Brighton and now we are here to show you that we are not a distant political leadership, but rather a vibrant living representative of the people of this city with its rich heritage.

 

Not far from this venue the bloody Langa Massacre took place in 1985, a stark reminder that we should remain firmly rooted amongst those who suffered greatly for our freedom.

 

I was disappointed that the opposition chose not to attend the induction ceremony. Even though we are from different political parties, and account to different political bosses, I was hoping that we would be able to reach across the political divide and come together in the interest of improving the lives of the residents of this city. I want to hear from opposition parties. Your ideas and suggestions are welcome. And you have nothing to fear from reaching out and being among the community. They are not your enemies or a danger to you. Come on board, and join us in the task of taking government to the people, as we lead this city in a new direction.

 

Last week I spoke about how this city is made of many parts – fragmented parts, forced apart by history and apartheid, but united now under a single metropolitan government. The Nelson Mandela BayMetropolitan Municipality encompasses all these areas – Motherwell is part of this metro, iBhayi is part of this metro, the northern areas are part of this metro, and Uitenhage and Kwanobuhle are part of this metro. By holding our Council meeting here, in Uitenhage, we are reconfirming our commitment to the people that we will continue to recognize this as one city, united in our diversity; we are committed to serving you, the people of this city.

 

I know that there is a lot of uncertainty about the changes that the new leadership of the city are going to make. One of the biggest decisions is what team we will pick for the Mayoral Committee. The Mayoral Committee is the political executive that must take charge of the different portfolios for the effective running of this city. It’s a hugeresponsibility. Mayoral Committee members need to be able to dedicate themselves to the portfolio they have been assigned, and give clear direction to the officials and structures under them. So I expect the Mayoral Committee to perform, to deliver on their responsibilities, and to meet the needs of the people of this city. You demand this of them, so I will demand this of them. We need a Mayoral Committee that is dedicated to performance, to running this city, to serving the interest of its people.

 

At the moment I am engaged in listening to stakeholders, including you the councillors, and the management of the city. I am trying to understand the precise nature of the challenge we have in front of us – so that I will then be able to pick the right team for the job. You don’t pick a team then decide on the nature of the match. You first work out what the match is going to demand of you, then pick a team that is right for the game. So I am not yet ready to announce the Mayoral Committee but intend to do so shortly. All I can say is that it will be a performance orientated team as we intend to lead from the front.

 

There is an immediate challenge in front of us, and that is the job of passing a budget for the metro. Last week Council noted the Draft Budget. A number of concerns were raised about the Draft Budgets. Most importantly, it has been projecting a deficit for the metro, and it is not cash backed. This means that the projected income for the budget is not credible. The problem with deficit budgeting is that we don’t accumulate any surplus funds for investment purposes, which means that we become grant dependent and cannot finance the infrastructure investment we need to deliver services to our people. Deficit budgets are bad for service delivery. Deficit budgets are bad for our credibility and they are bad for our ability to borrow funds and finance our investment requirements.

 

National government is going through a period of belt tightening, linked to the global economic recession, and it is inevitable that the cities includingourselves are going to feel the same sort of fiscal pressures.

 

I am committed to wiping out deficit budgets and I promise you that I will not table a deficit budget in this house, but it will take some hard work on our part. Firstly we are going to have to cut non-essential items. This means that wish list projects such as the film festival are not going to be possible – at least not for this year. Also, we are going to have to rein in our spending on personnel – the amount we spend on salaries has been growing steadily as a proportion of our budget, and we need to watch that this does not crowd out crucial operating expenditure.

 

Madame Speaker, we certainly need to cut the amount that we are spending on consultants. I have never been able to understand why, when you employ someone to do a job, you then have to hire a team of consultants to do that job as well. We can do without one or the other, and my preference is that we should be building internal capacity to do the job.

 

There are a few things I don’t want to see cut. We need to grow the local economy and create jobs, modernise archaic administration and billing systems, root out corruption at all levels, fix decaying infrastructure and falling service levels, amongst others.

 

We have to prioritise services to our people – clean water, decent sanitation, regular waste collection, proper housing, electricity, roads that are free of potholes. I also want us to prioritise the youthdevelopment and the eradication of unemployment in our city. We simply cannot allow our children to grow up in a city without hope. And if we cannot offer them space in a productive economy, we are not really offering them a future at all.

 

I am also concerned that we need to be taking a long hard look at some of the big infrastructure projects in this city. The Nooitgedacht water transfer scheme seems to be absolutely essential to prevent this city from running out of bulk water supply. We have been enormously encouraged by the commitment from the Minister of Water and Sanitation to provide one-hundred and twenty-eight million rand towards this scheme, and we are now looking at how to make up the difference. I am not sure whether we can afford or even need the more expensive Fish Water Flats waste water treatment plant at this stage. And we certainly need to review the financing model and rollout of the Bus Rapid Transit system.

 

Madame Speaker, our officials are hard at work to cut the budget correctly so that we prioritize appropriately. This means that a few more days are needed. We plan to finalise a revised draft of the budget by the end of this week and table the budget for adoption at the next Council meeting.

 

Yesterday, I had a meeting with National Treasury, who have been very supportive in this process. We will continue to engage them in finalizing the budget process and complying with Section 25 (1) of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Last week I also spoke about the support package that has been put together by national and provincial government as part of the process of supporting the turnaround in the metro and addressing the challenges that we face. We received criticism that this collaborative effort between the three spheres of government could be considered as a lack of confidence in the ability of our leadership. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Councillors, the support package has been put together in response to the request by the newly appointed leadership of the municipality for national and provincial support to address critical capacity requirements. We are grateful for the leading role that Cooperative Governance played in this regard.

 

However, I would like to make it clear that it was done in terms of Section 154 of the constitution which states that national and provincial government, through legislative and other means are required to support local government in the exercise of its responsibilities.

 

We aim to implement the intervention plan to address people’s concerns about service delivery, create a sound base for economic growth and job creation, entrench good governance and accountability at political and administrative levels and root out corruption amongst others.

 

As I have already said, youth unemployment in the metro is an overriding priority, and the intervention plan will aim to create an environment conducive for economic growth and job creation. The delivery of economic infrastructure and services will be improved, key regulatory processes (re-zonings, building plan approvals, etc) will be sped up, and catalytic projects in integration zones will be expedited.

 

The apartheid spatial form of the city will be finally tackled through the development of a truly transformational Built Environmental Performance Plan (BEPP), and integration zones between township and town.

We are also focusing on some quick win projectswhich can ensure that people see immediate and visible improvements. It is vitally important thatCouncillors know about developments in each ward and communicate these to residents. Specific areas in which quick wins will be expedited are:

Temporary electrification of informal areas

Public street lighting in townships to increase safety and security

Expedite bucket eradication by:

o

Addressing the blockages in moving people to existing serviced sites at Khayamnandi

o

Housing development to include water-borne sanitation at Joe Slovo green fieldshousing project and Walmer informal settlement

o

Increased provision of temporary ablution facilities in informal settlements

Increase the frequency of waste collection

Jack up road maintenance (e.g. repair of potholes, cleaning of drains)

 

The support package will be coordinated by a Political Steering Committee convened by theMinister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Comrade Pravin Gordhan, the Eastern Cape Premier and MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the municipal Troika together with ministers from service delivery departments.

 

A Technical Support Committee comprised of officials from the three spheres of government will support the Political Steering Committee in the exercise of their duties.

 

The intervention is planned to take place over a timeframe of six months, and it will be comprehensively reviewed at the end of this year in order to determine its further requirements.

 

I know that you are as committed as I am to turningthis metro around, and I am sure that you will join me in thanking the Minister of COGTA, and his colleagues in national and provincial government, for working with us to make this city great again. Fellow Councillors, we must believe that even in the face of what seems insurmountable, this municipality will not evade its responsibilities. We are determined to stay on course - on the road to a better and worthy future!

 

As Nelson Mandela counselled us, “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity; it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

 

We thank you

 

DR DANNY JORDAAN

EXECUTIVE MAYOR

NELSON MANDELA BAY