Greater cooperation between the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and Cooperative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan was cemented at a meeting held at the Chamber’s office in Greenacres this morning.
Gordhan, along with his advisor Mandla Nkomfe, and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Deputy Mayor Bicks Ndoni met with a large representation of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s board, under the leadership of Deputy Presidents MC Botha and Cumesh Moodliar, and Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler.
NMBBC CEO, Kevin Hustler, had the following to say; “Minister visits Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber Comment on behalf of Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler In 2014 the Past President of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Mandla Madwara, and I met with President Jacob Zuma at his residence in Pretoria and submitted the concerns of both Business and Civil Society regarding the poor state of our region and drew the President’s attention to the urgent need for intervention at both a political and administrative level.
The President’s commitment was to return to the city with a ministerial delegation, which he subsequently did on April 15 last year, where he engaged with the city leadership of both the Business Chamber and Civil Society Coalition at City Hall. At this time we presented a priority wish list for 2014/15 for the top 10 issues we deemed critical for our region. Among these were the completion of the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme and funding for the upgrading of water infrastructure in the Metro; Prioritization and funding of key sub-stations and networks to be upgraded; The IPTS running effectively and efficiently; Competitive Pricing for High Energy Users in the Metro; and an Intensive Focus on Housing backlog and delivery on Bucket system eradication.
In the meeting was the then Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan who subsequently became the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Since then, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has been engaging with Minister Gordhan in both his former and current capacity – and his office – on an ongoing basis regarding critical interventions in our metro.
A recent request to the Minister’s office to engage with the new leadership of the Business Chamber was honoured by the Minister this morning. Gordhan met with a large representation of the board, where the Business Chamber’s new Strategy on a Page was presented to the Minister to set context against which the fundamental issues would be discussed during the meeting. The four key areas are: Electricity, Water, Roads and Transport and Metro Capacity Building.
The business leaders were extremely frank with regards to generic issues impacting on business in the metro, namely the lack of vision, planning, credibility, infrastructure maintenance and capital investment by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Concerns regarding leadership, management and absence of particular skills, e.g. engineering, and the impact on our infrastructure were also discussed.
As part of the way forward the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber leadership proposed particular outcomes for each of the key issues mentioned with timelines attached. An additional factor that was discussed was the need for a unified and shared vision for the city that we proposed could be built around the Business Vision 2030, which had been jointly developed by the Business Chamber and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Business School.
Business was not only asking for the above matters to be addressed, but also offering their expertise where deemed appropriate from the skills base of the Business Chamber membership. The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber houses a depth of expertise in many sectors and showed a willingness to support the metro in developing strategic and maintenance plans, as well as, processes in an advisory capacity, as deemed appropriate.
With regards to the way forward, it is firmly believed that a strong alliance of the Metro leadership was required around a shared vision to reinvigorate trust, build confidence and be champions of hope in our region. It was also agreed that both the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and business sector needed each other – as without one, the other fails.
In his response to the pleas of business today, Gordhan assured the Business Chamber that through the Back to Basics Campaign national government was moving closer to the metro and, in this instance, through the political and technical steering committee meetings, were taking bold decisions to turn the city around. He said clear programmes of action had been established and the municipality’s capacity is currently being assessed.
In closing, it was agreed that a relationship of trust needed to be rebuilt and that the new leadership of the metro should be given space and time to firm up on their plans, and continue to meet further with stakeholders. Gordhan committed to ongoing dialogue with business into the future.”
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