Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip is hoping to whip the city into shape after making significant changes to his mayoral committee yesterday.
Former infrastructure, engineering, electricity and energy head Annette Lovemore has been appointed chairwoman for corporate services, while ACDP councillor Lance Grootboom will step in as portfolio head for public health.
Grootboom was previously chairman of the municipal public accounts committee (Mpac).
The new addition to the mayoral committee is DA councillor Masixole Zinto, who served previously on the economic development and infrastructure standing committees.
He will take over the infrastructure and engineering portfolio.
The shake-up has received a mixed reaction from opposition parties.
The move comes after corporate services and human resources portfolio head Dean Biddulph resigned earlier this month, leaving Trollip’s cabinet with two vacancies.
The position of public health had been vacant since May, when former deputy mayor and UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani was fired.
It was held by Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels for a short time when he joined the coalition briefly.
The shakeup also leaves the Mpac portfolio without a head. The vacancy is expected to be filled by majority vote at a council meeting next month.
Trollip said the reshuffle was in the interest of a skills and expertise transfer.
“I believe Grootboom has the necessary skillset to bring to public heath to improve the cleaning up of our city and making this a clean city,” he said.
“Lovemore is a stickler for dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, and reading policies and asking questions to distraction – we hope she will bring that skill to corporate services.”
He said he had already instructed her to focus on human resources and employment practices.
On the appointment of Zinto, Trollip said his qualifications in engineering would assist him in successfully heading up the infrastructure and engineering portfolio.
EFF leader in council Zilindile Vena was disappointed that Trollip had not taken the opportunity to include a black woman on his mayoral committee.
“It is his cabinet, he can do what he wants.
“But we would have liked to see Trollip appoint a black woman as his cabinet does not reflect enough women,” Vena said.
“We welcome the appointment of Zinto as he is young and black and we believe he will add value to the committee.”
Vena said the party was happy to see Lovemore moved from the infrastructure and engineering portfolio.
“But we are extremely worried that Lovemore has been moved to an even broader department after she failed to eradicate the bucket system.
“If she could not deliver on the bucket system, how can she head up such a critical and broad department?”
Bobani, meanwhile, compared the reshuffle to a game of musical chairs.
“Trollip is shuffling like he is at a poker table,” he said.
“Nelson Mandela Bay voters deserve much better than the baasskap of ‘I say so and that’s that!’”
He accused the DA of doing the opposite of what it had demanded from the ANC. “While the DA is screaming foul about President [Jacob] Zuma’s cabinet reshuffles, the DA’s own Nelson Mandela Bay mayor is playing musical chairs without as much as a squeak from the DA leader.”
ANC leader Bicks Ndoni said the continuous changes in the mayoral committee were a sign of instability.
“We are concerned that just as people were getting comfortable in their portfolios, there is a change and we believe this affects service delivery,” Ndoni said.
“It is concerning to see these changes as this points to internal problems within the party.”
United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila said the changes did not mean anything.
“To us this does not make a difference, things will remain the same and people in black communities will continue not getting services,” Mtsila said.
The AIC’s Tshonono Buyeye questioned why Grootboom had been moved to public health.
“We are not surprised by the [reshuffle] but it does make one wonder why they would leave the [Mpac] position vacant because the DA does not have the numbers in council.”
Daniels could not be reached for comment.