Bobani hits back at Business Chamber allegations

Mayor Mongameli Bobani. File picture
Mayor Mongameli Bobani. File picture
Image: Werner Hills

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani has hit back at the Business Chamber's allegations that political instability was driving business away, calling the statement disrespectful and out of order.

Bobani labelled the open letter dishonest, disrespectful and out of order.He said it was more of a political statement that lacked understanding of how a municipality functions and lacked understanding of disciplinary processes, recruitment processes and the responsibility of the council.

"The letter exposes a number of misconceptions and shallow grasp by the chamber of their role and the way they are suppose to be engaging the municipality, it's leadership and management. "

It is disappointing to note that in their letter they mention the issue of the city manager and yet they understand, or maybe suppose to understand, how legal processes work. "One wonders what tools have they used to come to such a conclusion. Or maybe they are riding on the wave of the narrative that has been created by those dark forces who are hell-bent on taking this municipality to administration," Bobani said.

Bobani said to whoever was behind the campaign, he wanted to make it clear that "no amount of peddling of lies will change facts". In an open letter to Bobani and his mayoral committee, the Business Chamber board expressed concern over the deteriorating environment which it claimed made it difficult for businesses to be sustainable and competitive.

The board said the city failed to provide a conducive environment for investment and was stifling the economic growth so desperately needed as businesses are prevented from conducting their normal day-to-day operations.

"It is our view that the situation has deteriorated to the level where the municipality, as a result of a crisis in its financial affairs, is in serious or persistent material breach of its obligations to provide basic services or to meet its financial commitments."

This results in the collapse of the social contract between the municipality and its citizens, resulting in the loss of confidence in the ability of the municipality to govern its affairs, in the best interests of its citizens," the statement reads.

With this in mind, the Business Chamber board has requested the following from the city:

  • The development and implementation of a sustainable plan aimed at avoiding or overcoming the management paralysis resulting from a hung municipal council;
  • The appointment of a permanent chief financial officer;
  • The dispute with the suspended city manager be resolved and the position filled within the next 30-90 days;
  • All vacant executive directorships should be filled within the next 30-90 days; and
  • A detailed proposal on the municipal tourism strategy and its future management dealing with both tourism generally as well as the future of the Mandela Bay Development Agency within the next 30-90 days.

The chamber said the city was not a strategic partner in achieving strategic outcomes such as promoting economic growth.

"In many instances, the municipal administration appears to have become a hindrance for growth on both a strategic and basic service level – and is paralysed by inefficiencies caused by political infighting and is resulting in the non-delivery of services," it said.

The chamber said that many metro businesses were struggling to keep their doors open and that the council needed to be cognisant of this as the R863m the city earned during the 2017/18 financial year from commercial property rates alone accounted for 8% of the city's total revenue, or close to 43% of its rates revenue in 2018.

"The manner in which the city councillors conduct themselves has become a national embarrassment.

"Council meetings appear to have degenerated to the level where the interests of the citizens of Nelson Mandela Bay have been subordinated to the exigencies of short-term political point-scoring, without any regard to the impact that the resultant dysfunctionality has, or may have on the citizenry."