The initiative, which is one SAPOA’s key endeavours to strengthen partnerships, dialogues and collaboration between the commercial property sector and government, was attended by the Executive Mayor of the City of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Councillor Athol Trollip, SAPOA President Ipeleng Mkhari, SAPOA CEO Neil Gopal, SAPOA board members and representatives from the City among other key government and property stakeholders.
This is Executive Mayor Athol Trollip’s first engagement with SAPOA since his election as Mayor of the City of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in August 2016.
During her welcoming address, Mkhari highlighted the importance of such events to an industry body such as SAPOA. “A key issue for us as SAPOA and business is the issue of intergovernmental relations. We acknowledge that mutually beneficial partnerships and a joint working relationship with government is at times fraught with challenges that could be avoided through better understanding. The reality is that we are inseparable, and we have to work together,” she said.
She further pointed out that as the urban conversation advances between SAPOA, the property industry at large and government, South African cities would begin to progress and evolve to compete on a global scale. “Cities and how they are governed and managed must be at the heart of the national economic jobs and growth debate if we are to have any hope of reaching in employment target. The ongoing concerns from both the private and public sector surrounding challenges that we both face requires that both parties become more actively involved with each other. We need to engage in meaningful dialogue and work together to improve business and the infrastructure in South Africa.”
The Executive Mayor emphasized the desire for the City to forge strong partnerships with SAPOA. “We are under no illusion about our relationship with you as property owners. As a Municipality, we’ve taken the approach of looking after you and do anything in our power to ensure that you continue to spend your money in the City.”
Executive Mayor Athol Trollip highlighted the three key plans for his terms in Office as a plan to attract investment into the City, namely stopping corruption, growing the economy and improving service delivery.
“As a City, we have made a determined decision to stop corruption. Although it does happen, corruption is not entertained in this City,” he said.
“Growing the economy has been the most difficult but we have shown some growth in the first half since we came into government. We have had two credit ratings upgrades, equivalent to the City of Cape Town. People know that they do business with the city that we have stable financials. We have focused in tourism to grow the economy and our numbers are better than they’ve ever been, especially in the areas of sports tourism, with a few key sporting events scheduled to take place in the City.”
“In addition to this, we have started an Unemployed Graduates Program, a triple helix relationship with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the Nelson Mandela University so that we can find opportunities for those young graduates and the results have been extraordinary.” The Executive Mayor highlighted that the City has a 50% unemployment rate, the highest in the country and an issue that needs to be addressed.
Improving service delivery is at the top of the City’s agenda. “We want the City to be unrecognizable.”
Turning his attention to property owners, Trollip noted that the industry is going through a difficult time, but that the City is working hard to attract investment, especially from the sector.
“If we can complete our term in office, the City will be unrecognizable. We have three years to realise that dream. We managed to achieve financial stability, but we do need political stability for investment. We have a lot going for us and are committed to make this City work,” he concluded.
One of SAPOA’s priority roles is ensuring that government departments and representatives remain in constant conversation with the property sector and that the industry’s needs are addressed at a legislative level, thus the Meet the Mayor initiative will continue in other cities and remain a highlight in SAPOA’s diary.
The Meet the Mayor Dinner was sponsored by multi-disciplinary and built-environment consultancy, GladAfrica.