CO-OPERATIVE Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen on Tuesday singled out the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality — which the African National Congress (ANC) is at risk of losing in the forthcoming local government polls — saying it was in “good health” and had almost R2bn in holdings.
Delivering his maiden budget vote speech in Parliament, Mr van Rooyen said the government’s back to basics programme — which focuses municipalities on getting small things right and promoting good governance — had made a difference in distressed municipalities.
“I’m glad to report that the situation in these municipalities is steadily improving. I have visited both Mogalakwena and Nelson Mandela Bay in the last month and it is heartening to note that Nelson Mandela Bay is on the road to good health.”
The troubled municipality — which has been hampered by infighting, corruption, poor financial controls and dismal record of service delivery — is set to be fiercely contested in the August 3 local government elections, with some observers saying there is a real possibility that the ANC will fail to retain power.
Last year the ANC appointed soccer boss Danny Jordaan as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, giving him a mandate to stabilise the municipality.
Mr van Rooyen said: “Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the newly installed collective of the mayoral committee, under the capable leadership of… Danny Jordan. They took over the municipality a little less than a year ago. In this time there is no doubt that they have turned the city’s fortunes around. From being faced with a R400m budget deficit, the city now sits with almost R2bn in holdings.”
The minister said decisive action was taken to clean up the municipality and rebuild community confidence.
“In this regard, 29 senior managers were fired for corruption. So, while some may erect billboards in a futile attempt to denigrate the executive mayor, we would like to put up one that says ‘another successful project by the ANC’,” said Mr Van Rooyen.
Last month the Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed responsibility for a billboard erected in Port Elizabeth displaying the message “Danny Jordaan, proudly brought to you by Jacob Zuma”.
On Tuesday, DA MP and co-operative governance and traditional affairs spokesman Kevin Mileham, said there was little evidence that the back to basics programme had achieved any of its intended outcomes.
“Now that (former co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister) Pravin Gordhan has left, to be replaced by a man described by his own colleagues as lightweight, the back to basics programme, much like Operation Clean Audit, the local government turnaround strategy and project consolidate, is languishing in the doldrums…
“Given the levels of corruption and state capture in ANC local governments, a practice they appear to have learnt from the ANC leaders who sit in this room and from the president himself, it is no surprise that 92 municipalities are technically insolvent according to recent reports. Of particular concern is the fact that local government in the current financial year controls expenditure in excess of R373bn,” said Mr Mileham.
The 2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework allocations to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs amount to R73bn in 2016-17, R78.5bn in 2017-18 and just more than R84bn in 2018-19.