The full and unabridged statement as read by Mayor Ben Fihla at a Press Conference at Jenny’s Room, Port Elizabeth City Hall on Tuesday, 16 April 2013:
Deputy Executive Mayor, Cllr Thando Ngcolomba, Mayoral Committee Members, City Manager, Councillors, Officials, And our guests of honour, the members of the media – I extend a warm welcome to you all.
Thank you for honouring our invitation to this important press conference as we map our way forward for the first 100 days in office. You will remember that when the Deputy Executive Mayor and I took office on the 22 of March, the city was faced by many challenges, both administratively and politically. I am glad to inform you that it is no longer the case and our message that business as usual is over hit home. Even though it is less than a month since we were bestowed the honour of leading this complex and important city by the African National Congress, I am glad that we can report to you that we are on track to make a marked difference in how business is conducted in the city.
The establishment of the Metropolitan Police Force is well underway as we are in the process of putting the necessary pillars in place to have it off the ground within the next couple of months. Cllr Thembinkosi Mafana and his team are working hard behind the scenes to make this a reality.
A Metro Police Plan has been developed which outlines the following, amongst others:
- Some of the required staff have already been trained by the Municipality,
- We have existing infrastructure that can be used for the operation of the new force,
- The identification of funding will be concluded to make sure that the new force will be viable,
- The appointment of a Metro Police Chief will receive priority,
- Consultation with stake holders, and
- A needs analysis will be concluded
This plan will be tabled before the Standing Committee for Safety and Security on Thursday.
I am sure all of us will agree that the city needs this development to ensure greater visibility of traffic law enforcement on our roads. On 2 April an open letter written by Marcelle Wentworth was published in a local newspaper. This letter was addressed to me. Marcelle, you will be glad to know that some of the issues raised by you will be the responsibility of the Metro Police to address.
The City Manager and I made history last week when we started with a staff imbizo to engage municipal employees from Uitenhage and Despatch. I was glad to see the commitment of some of our employees and we made note of their concerns. Our interaction with employees will continue this Thursday. We will make sure that this is not the last time that management meets directly with the workers as similar interactions will follow in the future.
Even though we have many positives to report on, we also noted with concern the violence in Motherwell. A Motherwell Intervention Task Team has been established to specifically focus on all aspects of the problems in that area. Cllr Buyisile Mkavu will lead this team, which will be supported by all relevant directorates. The Task Team already met with the community members to try and resolve housing related challenges in their area.
We cannot condone the destruction of property and that lives of people are threatened. Some of those in danger are municipal Councillors. I consulted with the Deputy Executive Mayor and we agreed to establish a political intervention to deal with all hot-spot areas in the City. The team will be led by the Deputy Executive Mayor who will work closely with a Rapid Response Task Team that falls under my leadership. Terms of Reference has been developed for the Deputy Executive Mayor in this regard.
Other hot-spot areas will also be identified and a plan of action will be developed to address this urgent matter. However, it also does not mean that we are turning a blind eye on the vast need of our community that could be a contributing factor to the action by the community. Systems are being put in place to fast-track service delivery projects.
I have also noted with concern this morning that the Black Business Forum accused the Office of the Executive Mayor of snubbing them by not inviting their representatives to a meeting with a Chinese delegation last week. Our Department of Economic Development and Recreational Services dealt with the invitations for that occasion. It is our intention to run an inclusive administration by facilitating opportunities for business to take advantage of. We will look at the reasons why they were not invited and determine a way forward for other similar engagements.
The Njoli Square Re-development project picked up speed, with only a few home owners still living on the area earmarked for this development. As soon as we can conclude negotiations with them, we can go full steam ahead to change the face of that area for the better.
Our Economic Development and Recreational Services Directorate has been tasked to lead the process of redeveloping the land where the old rugby stadium is located. Unfortunately, a city like ours cannot have two major stadiums for sporting events. The new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is providing us with a fantastic sporting facility and as a result the old stadium must go. It is prime land that can be used with great benefit to the city and we must make sure that the development proposals will ensure that the city has a development that can add value.
To show our seriousness regarding issues of economic growth and development we will be launching an Investment Council that will be led by the Deputy Executive Mayor to deal with all issues of investment. The relevant directorate has already developed the Terms of Reference for the Council and stakeholders have been identified. We are also in agreement that an Economic Advisory Panel will be established to deal with broader issues pertaining to economic development. I will lead this panel.
In my inauguration, I reiterated the fact that Executive Directors will be employed by June 2013. The City Manager is working on the process plan to ensure that by July 2013, we have Executive Directors in place.
I am also glad to report that water leaks are dealt with on a daily basis by our staff to avoid unattended to leaks for extended periods.
Our main focus of the bucket system eradication strategy remains an integrated approach to eradicate buckets through the construction of houses in terms of our housing programme. Although this approach has been negatively affected due to a lack of response from Provincial Government, we remain positive that we will be able to restore the dignity of our citizens by eradicating this system.
Interim solutions are currently looked at to speed up this process.
Ladies and gentlemen I know that we can make Nelson Mandela Bay an exciting place to live, work and enjoy live in.
I thank you.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality