Bay mayor spells out achievements since taking over
SINCE taking over the reins three months ago, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality was financially stronger, clamping down on corruption and closer to its people, mayor Danny Jordaan said yesterday.
He said his leadership team was building the kind of city that late statesman Nelson Mandela would be proud of.
Before presenting a progress report of his first 100 days in office, however, Jordaan hit back at his critics.
He told journalists, politicians, municipal officials, business and community leaders gathered at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium: “I drove in the streets and saw a poster which said ‘Danny fails’.
How can I fail if I didn’t write the exam?
“I will now write the exam and you can decide if I have passed or failed.”
He then gave a detailed account of his first 100 days since stepping into City Hall.
Jordaan said over a short period of time they had stabilised the metro’s finances and reworked the budget to have R1.5-billion working capital in the bank, in contrast to the previous precarious financial position.
“When we came here, we had a huge challenge,” he said.
“The budget projected a deficit of R1.2-billion over the next four years and we said, no, we can’t do that.
“In 30 days, we had to rework the budget and we went to council with a surplus – it was a small surplus, but a surplus nonetheless.”
This had caught the attention of investors who were keen to pump money into the local economy.
“If we have stability and we have financial security, then the investors will come,” he said.
“We’ve engaged national and international investors.”
Jordaan said, as a result, businesses like Volkswagen SA, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA and FAW had all committed to invest billions of rands into the Bay’s economy.
VWSA announced a R4.5-billion investment recently in preparation for two new state-of-the-art car models that will be produced in the Uitenhage factory by 2017.
Prasa also announced a R1.4-billion investment, and Jordaan said FAW had indicated that it would “build cars and sedans” at its Port Elizabeth plant, in addition to the trucks it was manufacturing.
“This is the level of confidence that has come back to the city,” he said.
“Transnet will start in January 2016 to move the manganese farm [from the harbour] and this will open [up] opportunities to have a wonderful waterfront there.”
Credit ratings agency Moody’s gave the municipality a positive rating recently, which Jordaan said would get more investors coming.
“One agency said we can immediately give you R500-million as a loan,” he said.
“We said, no, we don’t want to borrow money now, we first want to build a stable financial base.”
Since he vowed to root out fraud and corruption in the municipality, 17 senior metro officials have been suspended and are under investigation.
Referring to criticism from the DA that he was not acting fast enough against alleged corrupt officials, Jordaan said: “You cannot [say that] and sing the praises of the constitution, which says people have rights and that you cannot just throw them in jail. “People are innocent until proven guilty. “But others are saying, no, they are guilty until proven innocent – that’s the apartheid approach. We must provide space for the processes to continue.
“We have already briefed the Hawks and they have made a lot of ground in terms of their investigation,” he said.
Speaking of efforts to bring the municipality closer to the people, Jordaan said that besides continuous engagement with different role-players, they had begun holding council meetings in communities to promote transparency and accountability.
“There was a total disconnect with the business leaders, religious leaders, the communities, the aged – and we said let’s reconnect with the people.”
Jordaan has been accused by DA Bay mayoral candidate Athol Trollip of “unethically dishing out reams of cash to voters”.
Jordaan said he had visited destitute families and witnessed unspeakable poverty. When he helped people, it was with his own money, he said.
Reacting to those who doubted his ability to lead the city, he said he had a proven, global track record as an administrator.
“I do not like talking about myself but some of these questions are like asking a pilot who has flown around the world ‘can you fly this small plane?’,” he said to much laughter from those at the stadium. MAYOR Danny Jordaan has called on the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to conduct thorough research into how the city can build a flourishing, sustainable township economy.
He was speaking at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium yesterday on his first 100 days in office.
Jordaan also highlighted the importance of implementing development projects in Uitenhage and Despatch, saying this was non-negotiable.
“The capital projects of the Mandela Bay Development Agency and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism will not be approved unless they specifically detail plans for Uitenhage and Despatch,” he said.
“People on the left side of Uitenhage road must know that they are part of this metro.”
With more business leaders focusing on tapping into and developing the township economy, Jordaan said the government had to eradicate past ills when townships were built just for workers to sleep there.
“You don’t work there, there’s no factories there . . . We have to change that by developing a township economy,” he said. “So, how do we do that? “We are going to get R4.2-billion to build houses [over the next four years] and those houses will need a door, they must have locks, they must have tiles, windows and glass and roofs . . .
“So, why can we not use a company in Motherwell to make those doors and a company in Gelvandale to make windows.
“As a metro, we must say all the doors and windows will be sourced from those companies.
“Then you can build an economy and businesses right there in that township.
“The only thing that you hear is we must build a statue at Embizweni Square and a statue there and monument here and another monument there . . .
“That is incidental because first the tourist must drive through, secondly he must stop or he may or may not buy a T-shirt or whatever you sell.
“What if he’s arguing with his wife and he’s so cross he drives past the monument?
“We cannot have incidental stimulation of the economy. This metro sources many things, so we must draw up a list and buy caps, T-shirts and doors and windows and whatever else.
“We must look at what percentage of things we buy can be sourced from the township.
“In this way we will start to transform the economy and the city.
“Then we’ll create real jobs and break the basic fundamentals of an apartheid economy.
“First, we need thorough research, and the university must help us,” Jordaan said.
“One task is to find out what the elements of a township economy are that we can safely place in the various townships on both sides of Uitenhage Road that can really, fundamentally change the economic profile of these areas, create real jobs, and creating wealth. The university must start with research tomorrow,” he joked.
Jordaan also spoke briefly about the plan to create a “smart city” with free wi-fi.
“We will talk more about it, but it is essential we move with the 21st century for business, too.
“This is necessary for the students, entertainment industry, and for business,” he said.
“It’s important that we have a city that is connected.”
-Rochelle de Kock and Nwabisa Makunga