AFTER two years without a full-time municipal manager, South Africa’s sixth-largest metropolitan municipality, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, will on Thursday be presented with a successful candidate for the position.
Derek Hanekom, convener of the African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee deployees working in the Eastern Cape, said this week in a radio interview that the immediate step to bring stability and good governance back into the metro was to appoint a competent municipal manager.
This appointment would be announced on Thursday in council by the panel that conducted the interviews on Saturday.
“To put it crudely, (it is) not a political deployment. It is a person that meets all the requirements, where all parties who where part of the interview process agreed that this is a good candidate,” Mr Hanekom said.
The ANC scraped through to win the metro with 50% of the votes in the 2011 municipal elections, down from 63% in the 2006 municipal elections. Tension between the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, led by chairman Nceba Faku, and the party’s representatives in the municipality were among the reasons for the slowdown of service delivery in the metro — affecting more than 1.1m residents — which led to a peak in service delivery protests last year.
The Eastern Cape had the second-highest rate of protests after the Western Cape, according to municipal data monitoring company Municipal IQ, especially in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
In 2011, the city had to suspend infrastructure programmes because of financial problems triggered by high expenditure during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, including R2.1bn for a stadium.
Among those interviewed for the municipal manager position last weekend were Dr Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela, Monde Tom and Thupi Mokhatla, all of whom have years of experience in the public service.
However, the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay region was on Wednesday firm on its position that Dr Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni take over as acting municipal manager until April, when the newly appointed candidate will move into office.
In April last year the ANC regional congress in Nelson Mandela Bay resolved that mayor Zanuxolo Wayile, his deputy Nancy Sihlwayi, speaker Maria Hermans and chief whip Feziwe Sibeko should step down.
However, Mr Wayile was seen to enjoy the support of the Eastern Cape ANC provincial executive committee, which campaigned for President Jacob Zuma in Mangaung last year in December.
Mr Hanekom — who was among those elected into the new ANC national executive committee under the Zuma slate in Mangaung — said the intervention in the municipality was to play a facilitating role to bring the ANC and its elected representatives together. He said there was a fine line between the ANC in the region providing strategic leadership and those in government implementing party policy.
“But sometimes that line is crossed (and) people start going beyond strategic leadership to try and micromanage the affairs of the municipality, which is not desirable,” Mr Hanekom said.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the metro saw the push for Ms Chabula-Nxiweni to step in temporarily as an attempt to undermine “high-profile corruption cases” the municipality was investigating.
DA caucus spokesman in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Knight Mali said on Wednesday that the opposition would fight efforts to bring in Ms Chabula-Nxiweni because she was seen to be “politically compromised and taking instructions from certain ANC leaders”.
However, other parties including the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Congress of the People (COPE) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) reportedly backed Ms Chabula-Nxiweni.
ANC secretary in Nelson Mandela Bay region Zandisile Qupe said on Wednesday it was the party’s decision that Mr Wayile and others step down and for Ms Chabula-Nxiweni to be appointed, and this had to be implemented.