There had been four mayors in about eight years and tens of municipal managers (this is always a red flag when people in authority are being constantly ousted and replaced).
This instability led to Pravin Gordhan seconding Johan Mettler to NMB as acting city manager and the ANC appointing Danny Jordaan to be mayor. This was an act of desperate need in order to try and curb the political backsliding in this iconic ANC city.
But voters saw right through the cosmetic window dressing as the corruption and pathetic service delivery didn’t change. The ANC were rejected by the electorate in 2016 because they wanted change that would stop the corruption and self-service that had literally brought the city to its knees.
In the 2016 Local Government elections change came in the form of a DA-led coalition government and addressing the existing corruption was the first order of business for us.
On taking over the council from the ANC in August 2016, the DA-led coalition inherited an administration that was R2-billion in debt. The extent of corruption in the city was well documented in Crispian Oliver’s book How to Steal a City. Two years later, the city has a R615-million surplus and an AAA credit rating.
The DA-run coalition had kept its promise to fight corruption, deliver better services and create jobs in NMB. Among other achievements, it had:
- terminated R650-million worth of corrupt contracts;
- eradicated 60% of all bucket toilets in the metro; and
- attracted millions of rand of private investment to the city, as well as tripled the number of EPWP jobs.
But the war against corruption is ironically what brought the DA-led coalition down as the ANC, UDM and EFF formed a coalition of corruption and wanted to get their hands back on the municipal resources that had built up significantly during the tenure of the new coalition. There was evidence of collusion with and financial inducement of a DA councillor to support a vote of no confidence in the Speaker which collapsed the new DA-led government.
Since Mongameli Bobani took over as mayor, he has been linked to fraud, corruption and money laundering related to the integrated public transport system (IPTS) from whose funds he allegedly received R664,000.
Another classic and tragic example of this was the unbudgeted “Christmas contract” given at first to 600 SMME’s which later became 945 just before Christmas. R21-Million was allocated for drain cleaning contracts by Mayor Bobani (also known as “Father Christmas”).
This led to chaos and no real evidence of any material work being done, yet the SMME’s were paid, many were however also not paid and there are serious allegations of much of this money being syphoned off to those closely connected to the “philanthropist” politicians. This subsequently led to multiple protests at city hall and the politicians predictably ran for the hills with their VIP protection services in tow.
Tragedy struck twice this week where it appears that two of the ringleaders in this debacle were shot dead in allegedly execution-style killings.
The sadness about this is that within months of the coalition of corruption usurping power against the wishes of the voters, the killings have started again, and this is directly related to voracious corruption.
The citizens of South Africa know that the ANC cannot be trusted to provide clean governance and the latest by-election result in Mangaung where we retained a ward, is a testimony to this. We received criticism for our “the ANC is killing us” billboard, but here in Nelson Mandela Bay it is evident that their corruption is literally leading to people being killed. It’s time to vote them out. They don’t care about the people; only about their own pockets.
Recent EFF social media commentary is also lamenting what is happening in Nelson Mandela Bay under the Leadership of Bobani and the criminal Lungisa, yet it is them that bequeathed us with this coalition of corruption. This too should be a salutary caution not to think that the EFF is any different to the ANC.
Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. DM
Athol Trollip is the DA’s Federal Chairperson