Call to take back stadium from MBDA
Control of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium should be handed over to a facilities management agency because it has been turned into a “semi-white elephant” under the management of the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), according to ANC councillor Mbulelo Gidane.
The city should also review the mandate and functions of the MBDA by the end of June.
These were some of the suggestions thrown around during a municipal public accounts committee (Mpac) meeting on Thursday. The Mpac members were discussing the MBDA’s performance during the 2017/2018 financial year as well as the entity’s unqualified auditor-general’s report.
Before the MBDA took control of the stadium, it was managed by Access Facilities and Leisure Management – with the contract ending in June 2016.
The municipality’s contract with Access has been mired in controversy amid allegations that the facility management company was used as a vehicle to launder money stolen from the city’s beleaguered Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS).
Five people, including former Access CEO Stephan Pretorius, are standing trial in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes court in a multimillion-rand fraud case linked to the alleged siphoning off of funds given to the municipality by the National Treasury for the IPTS.
At Thursday’s meeting, Mpac members also resolved to summon the entire executive of the MBDA to the next Mpac meeting.
MBDA chief executive Ashraf Adam, along with his executive, will be asked to explain why the entity only managed to achieve 42% of its target for the year under review.
At the meeting, Gidane suggested the city take back control of the stadium and have it run by a service provider.
Gidane said the stadium had become a semi-white elephant.
“I want to recommend that the stadium be managed by a stadium management company and not [the] MBDA.
“We need to look at that route,” he said.
“The Kings are playing at the university – it means we require stadium management with immediate effect.”
ANC councillor Ncediso Captain said he was not against the suggestion.
However, he urged that a workshop be organised to look into the matter.
“As much as there would be no issue with the recommendations, we first need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of that.
“In principle, we support this but we need to look at the process plan and also the reason why it was packaged that way,” Captain said.
“I am not saying I am reluctant but I am saying let’s look at the pros and cons and why it was put together.” Acting city manager Peter Neilson said he would facilitate the workshop with the MBDA to discuss the possibility of having a service provider run the stadium.
“The office of the city manager will co-ordinate this because I think it’s important for the MBDA and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Neilson said.
“There were very good reasons why [the] MBDA was given management of the stadium in the interim and I think we need to go into that, set the right amount of time for it and set the original mandates.
“Through the office of the city manager, we will set up a half-day workshop for this.”
The DA warned that taking back control of the stadium would have budgetary implications.
The proposal comes as the term of the current MBDA board ends on April 21. Seven people have been short-listed as new board members.
DA councillor Retief Odendaal said: “We can’t just take the stadium back, there are also budget implications and capacity issues – we need a report on this.”
He also warned that those in government should refrain from politicising the MBDA’s board of directors. “Everything in the MBDA’s house is not perfect but we congratulate [them] that they at least got an unqualified audit.
“There are a number of concerns that we have with regard to the MBDA at the moment but one of the major concerns is the instability that could be caused by the change in board members.”
Odendaal said when former mayor Athol Trollip took over from Danny Jordaan there had been no changes made to the board.
“Many of us have been involved in this institution for many years.
“The appointment of the board members needs to be done on a nonpolitical basis.
“This was because they were appointed apolitically and they were good board members.
“I want to urge that we [be] very circumspect when we deal with the board of the MBDA so that we don’t cause instability by continuously wanting to change the board.
“Continuity is important so that when a new board comes in there must at least be a couple of board members that remain,” he said.
MBDA spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi could not be reached for comment.