The days of glitzy, glamorous public events, flashy cars and cadre deployment are over, newly elected Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip vowed minutes after stepping into office.
Trollip, who delivered his first official speech to a jubilant crowd of DA, UDM, EFF and COPE supporters at a packed Feather Market Centre, laid out his vision for the next five years, vowing that the metro’s money would be used effectively by stretching every tax rand to achieve maximum output.
Among the dignitaries at the dramatic first council meeting of the new five-year term were DA leader Mmusi Maimane, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and EFF national chairman Advocate Dali Mpofu.
The ANC councillors tried to disrupt the meeting after arriving late, saying they had been prevented from entering the venue by the security guards.
They raised a number of points of order and objections to the election of a speaker, mayor, deputy mayor and chief whip.
A large number of the ANC councillors eventually staged a walkout shortly after Trollip was elected mayor.
The UDM’s Mongameli Bobani was elected deputy mayor, the DA’s Jonathan Lawack as speaker and the DA’s Werner Senekal was appointed chief whip of the council. They were all elected unopposed. Earlier in the day, the ANC’s attorney wrote a letter to acting city manager Johann Mettler, threatening to obtain a court interdict if he did not postpone the 10am council meeting.
Mettler said the letter stated that the ANC was unhappy with the allocation of PR seats in the council.
He instructed the metro’s attorneys to respond to the letter.
The ANC’s attorney – Barnabas Xulu, of Barnabas Xulu and Partners – confirmed that he had received instructions from the ANC in the Bay, but declined to reveal any names.
ANC regional coordinator Beza Ntshona and national spokesman Zizi Kodwa denied knowledge of the letter.
Meanwhile, Trollip told the euphoric crowd of supporters in the hall that the new DA-led coalition government – which includes the UDM, ACDP and COPE – would focus on rooting out corruption, creating jobs and improving service delivery.
Topping his list of priorities was the establishment of an efficient, effective and highly skilled administration.
He also promised to eradicate the bucket toilet system by the end of next year and ensure there was a weekly refuse collection in every area by the end of the year.
“The days of costly and duplicate mayoral satellite offices are over, as this new government will be in touch with communities through their elected councillors and their funded ward offices, and a mayor who will be on the ground with the people,” Trollip said.
“This is the way a functional local government should work and will work.
“We will respect all legislation pertaining to local government and pledge to enforce the law and function strictly within its boundaries.
“Any official or public representative found to be operating outside the rule of law will be charged and will have to account for [his or her] actions or derelictions in the relevant courts of law or within the municipal disciplinary structures.”
He said ongoing disciplinary cases against staff would be prioritised and finalised quickly.
“Let me state categorically that those officials who do not hold the prerequisite qualifications for the job they are in, or who were appointed irregularly, will have their appointment carefully scrutinised and if found to have been appointed outside the ambit of the law, will have such appointments terminated.
“All outstanding forensic audit reports will be tabled and acted upon and we will have no reservation in conducting further forensic audits of irregular contracting and appointments if and when necessary.
“We will engage with the national Treasury to ensure the forensic audit of the defunct IPTS [bus system] can reach finality as soon as possible, so that we can work to resolve this R2.5-billion impasse that has yielded nothing in return to the benefit of this city.
“We will have to make these decisions dispassionately, based on relevant and appropriate professional advice on whether to try and redeem this project or to scrap it. “I pledge to do this as soon as possible.
“It is time to lock the revolving doors of corruption, cadre deployment and cronyism and bring about a new model of administration by this multiparty government.”
The new government would focus on tourism, install infrastructure to lure investors and create jobs.
Bobani said the new team represented the rainbow nation.
“We are going to work – there will be no Christmas,” he said.
“We are ready for the challenge. To our ANC colleagues, we expect them to play an oversight role. “We appeal to them to join us and work with us.” Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler congratulated the new leadership, saying the chamber looked forward to a positive working relationship.
“It is important that the government demonstrates clear intent to build an investor-friendly environment through the implementation of sound economic policies focused on growth,” he said.
“[The] chamber implores the new municipal leadership in the city to create a stable business environment and engage in a collaborative way with organised business.
“This collaboration will ensure that the voice and vision of business is heard and built into the service-delivery plans and future vision of the city.”