The year has been riddled with political turbulence which brought out the good, the bad and the ugly in Nelson Mandela Bay politicians. Reporter Rochelle de Kock spoke to the Bay’s party leaders who reflected on their highs and lows
Ben Fihla (ANC)
Highs: “We have managed to bring stability to the municipality by appointing most of our executive directors, distinguished the municipality as a preferred destination to invest in the green economy through our renewable energy programme and we won an international award for our energy-saving high-mast lighting.
“Several infrastructure projects are being implemented such as the upgrade to the Nooitgedacht Low Level Scheme, multibillion-rand upgrades at our water treatment works, waste water treatment works and the John Tallant Road upgrade.
“We started with solar electricity units in shack areas at no cost to consumers and work started on an advanced water leak detection initiative that will go a long way towards dealing with water leaks more comprehensively.
“We established ourselves as the preferred destination for the South African leg of the Sevens Rugby; secured a competitive Premier Soccer League team [Chippa United] based at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and launched the Mandela International Film Festival that will take place next year.”
Lows: “We regret not to have concluded the Njoli Square redevelopment sale agreements as we still could not reach agreements with two landowners.
“This would have enabled us to start sooner with this township development that will change the face of Zwide forever and become an important catalyst for economic development there. We are confident that we will be able to improve on the good work next year.”
Khwezi Ntshanyana (COPE)
Highs: “COPE had one of the most stable national conferences in a while, indicating we’re on a strong footing going forward to rebuild the organisation.
“When we received 50 people moving over to us from the DA in October, it was an indication that we are still a living organisation.
“At a council level, with the adoption of the budget, we fought strongly that we cannot add the metro police onto the budget and it was not properly budgeted for, and the national Treasury agreed with us.”
Lows: “Our performance in the May 7 elections was disappointing. We polled far less than we expected. We also lost a string of by-elections.
“The only silver lining is that people can see that COPE is still alive and working, not dead as some say”.
Retief Odendaal (DA)
Highs: “The outstanding election results of the DA in the metro during the 2014 general elections [were a highlight]. While our support continued to grow, support for the ANC in our region dropped to below 49%. [Also], the disbanding of the ANC’s Nelson Mandela Bay regional executive.
“Here’s hoping that President Zuma’s intervention will finally bring some political stability to the dysfunctional administration of this municipality in 2015.”
Lows: “The dysfunctional administration of this institution. Notwithstanding that the council has filled most of the vacancies for executive directors, there has been very little to no improvement insofar as service delivery is concerned.
“The assassination of councillor Buyisile Mkavu, portfolio chairman for human settlements.
“This directorate has been riddled with instances of fraud and corruption and I want to believe that councillor Mkavu was on the brink of exposing some of this before his untimely death.
“It is an absolute disgrace that the mayor has ignored the DA’s call for a full forensic audit into all housing-related matters within this directorate.
[Another low point is] the IPTS project which just seems unable to get off the ground.
“It is clear that we do not have the necessary in-house expertise to create a viable, sustainable public transport system. That we have received numerous reports of corruption on this project is even more disturbing. [And there’s the issue of] receiving a third qualified audit.”
Andile Gqabi (Independent)
Highs: “I appreciate what was displayed at Ward 42 when the community showed its support for me to lead them. Also, a highlight was the disbanding of the ANC regional executive.
“It tells us that the cries of the people in Ward 42 were real. I’ve been proved right that there are individuals of the ANC who are doing things and hiding behind the name of the ANC.”
Lows: “I was treated like a traitor within the ANC. I was humiliated and my dignity was taken away as if I was some sort of threat.”
Mongameli Bobani (UDM)
Highs: “We are so proud of our achievements. We secured a number of members from COPE to the UDM. In the council, the UDM raised a number of challenging service delivery issues.
“Our support base has increased – we moved from 60 branches to 100. In my office, we served 100000 people this year.”
Lows: “We raised serious matters within the municipality, but were not taken seriously by the ANC. There was the issue of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers not working.
“Also, when we were saying that white people must live in shacks, people wrongly interpreted that as racism. It was not racism.
“We were trying to say the government must concentrate on improving the lives of all people.”