OPPOSITION parties in the Eastern Cape, announcing their mayoral candidates, have revealed ambitions of being in charge of the province’s two metropolitan municipalities. Both COPE and the PAC have thrown down the gauntlet, releasing their preferred candidates for the Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City municipalities this week.
COPE MP Smuts Ngonyama was this week unveiled as the party’s mayoral candidate in Nelson Mandela Bay, while the PAC have put forward Jerome Mdyolo in Buffalo City.
Ngonyama was nominated by members of the Nelson Mandela Bay region and his nomination was unopposed at a recent congress national committee (CNC) meeting, party leadership said. This means if the party wins the majority vote in its first local government elections, the former Economic Development MEC could become mayor of the province’s biggest city.
However, his nomination is still to be ratified by the party’s working committee, said COPE secretary Deidre Carter yesterday.
“The final decision on mayoral candidates has not yet been taken, but I can say that Smuts was not opposed when his nomination was brought up at our March 19 CNC,” she said.
Meanwhile, the ANC yesterday said the process of determining its mayoral candidates had not begun. Buffalo City region interim structure chairperson Mxolisi Dimaza said: “We will recommend two or even three names and submit those to the province, which will then apply its mind and submit recommendations to the NEC for a final decision. For now we have not been notified to begin the process.”
It is not clear yet whether current Buffalo City mayor Zukisa Faku will be retained.
Faku’s name appears in the top five names in an ANC candidate list. However, her tenure as mayo was fraught with controversy, and she has survived a vote of no confidence brought by ANC members.
Ngonyama could also be a controversial figure and most voters will remember him for words uttered in 2006. The former head of communications for the ANC achieved infamy, responding to an outcry after he received shares in a BEE deal by saying: “We did not struggle to be poor.”
COPE provincial spokesperson Lindile Mhlophe said party branches in the metro had specifically asked for Ngonyama. He said Ngonyama’s experience in Economic Development stood him in good stead.
“The metro used to be seen as a potential competitor to Tshwane, but that never happened because of political instability. We’re also hoping he could then bring stability to that key municipality.”
Mhlophe said an announcement on candidate mayors in other municipalities in the province, including Buffalo City, would be made shortly.
Though not targeting Buffalo City as yet, the DA has bolstered its proportional representation line- up, bringing in additional experienced members from other municipalities and the district.
The DA mayoral candidate in Nelson Mandela Bay, Leon de Villiers, previously said: “Our team has the ability to turn this metro around and make it a place of rising opportunity when we become the senior partner in a coalition.”