The laugh­ing stock and the un­likely al­liance

Finweek English Edition - - NEWS -

Plagued by po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing and stalled ser­vice de­liv­ery that has seen in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent protests, the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s woes have spurred an un­likely coali­tion to stem the per­cep­tion of the city as a laugh­ing stock among in­vestors – that of the lo­cal busi­ness cham­ber and the or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is usu­ally coun­ter­ing them, Cosatu.

“We are faced with the prospect of ma­jor com­pa­nies ei­ther clos­ing their doors or re­lo­cat­ing en­tirely,” Bay busi­ness­man and pres­i­dent of the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Busi­ness Cham­ber, Mandla Mad­wara, said at a press brief­ing on 3 June.

He was f lanked by Cosatu’s re­gional sec­re­tary Andile Bloko, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the city’s ratepay­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion and the South African National NGO Coali­tion (San­goco). Other NGOs such as churches and even the Nel­son Man­dela Metropoli­tan Univer­sity are mooted to soon be join­ing the coali­tion.

Mad­wara was touch­ing on what busi­ness has re­ferred to as a vir­tual shut­down of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which the coali­tion says is caus­ing in­vestors to f lee ei­ther abroad or to other South African cities. It comes amid a stand-off be­tween new­ly­elected oc­to­ge­nar­ian mayor, Ben Fihla, a nd newly- e l e c t e d c i t y man­ager, Dr Lindiwe Msen­gana-Ndlela.

The of­fi­cials may be new to their posts, but the stand-off is not. The po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sion has desta­bilised the ANC in the city to such an ex­tent that it al­most lost its ma­jor­ity dur­ing the 2011 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

Be­fore Msen­gana-Ndlela’s ap­point­ment, there had been no per­ma­nent city man­ager since mid-2009.

The coali­tion says as many as 12 000 jobs in the city are at risk with com­pa­nies, fed up with an in­ept mu­nic­i­pal­ity, ei­ther shut­ting their doors en­tirely or re­lo­cat­ing. It is also con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion against the metro and has called on Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to in­ter­vene.

Msen­gana-Ndlela, who was ap­pointed in March and boasts a for­mer post as di­rec­tor-gen­eral in the national Depart­ment of Provin­cial and Lo­cal Govern­ment, has com­plained of un­due po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence from Fihla’s of­fice. She has been stalled in try­ing to can­cel a ques­tion­able and costly pub­lic trans­port ten­der, as well as in try­ing to re­cruit ca­pa­ble pro­fes­sion­als to mu­nic­i­pal ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor posts which have been va­cant for years.

The con­tin­ued ruc­tions has ANC bosses so wor­ried that party sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, his deputy Jessie Duarte and national ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Derek Hanekom are jet­ting into the Bay al­most weekly in a bid to calm ten­sions.

As coun­cil meet­ings are can­celled or de­layed amid the po­lit­i­cal bick­er­ing, ser­vice de­liv­ery in the Bay has stalled and al­ready

Pic­ture cap­tion specifics, from left: Busi­ness Cham­ber CEO Kevin Hustler, Cham­ber deputy present Neil Hart, Cham­ber pres­i­dent Mandla Mad­wara, NMB Ratepay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion head Kobus Ger­ber, San­goco re­gional sec­re­tary Mongameli Peter, NMB Ratepay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion deputy Khaled El-Jabi, and Cosatu re­gional sec­re­tary Andile Bloko

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