Nelson Mandela Bay municipality gets slated in parliament

The City Hall in Port Elizabeth
The City Hall in Port Elizabeth
Image: Werner Hills

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality got a serious smackdown in parliament for poor management of its finances with ANC MPs leading the onslaught and one saying it should  change its name as it did not espouse the values of the man whose name it carried.

The municipality was identified by the auditor-general as the worst offender in the country for incurring the most irregular expenditure in the 2018/2019 financial year.

The auditor-general put the figure at R12.3bn. 

It ranked tenth out of 257 municipalities in terms of unauthorised expenditure.

The municipality’s leadership appeared before the select committee of the National Council of Provinces to account for the irregular expenditure and to present a plan on how it will turn things around.

They clashed with MPs from the onset when the four-member team was led by ANC councillor Andile Lungisa and not by mayor Mongameli Bobani.

Shocked MPs gasped when Lungisa told them Bobani could not attend the meeting because “of the visit of the Springboks” to the metro.

His team sought to sell a story about how the problems of the municipality were historic and that most of the irregular was accumulated in previous years when a DA-led coalition ran the government.

Lungisa said the current government was cleaning up and that “the havoc” in the municipality was a result of consequence management by the current administration and cancellation of huge contracts awarded under the previous administration.

MPs did not buy it.

Committee chair China Dodovu said records presented by official bodies in this country, the auditor-general and the National Treasury showed the situation was “very horrible” in the municipality.

“Here we are dealing with a municipality that is in trouble and its troubles are escalating.

“And in the balance of evidence it doesn't show that you are going to ameliorate this situation.”

Dodovu noted that, while the National Treasury had identified 28 items that the municipality should address, only one had been attended to.

“For me this is serious and having listening to you I don’t get a sense that you want to turn things around.

“This is an indictment.

“This is serious; this is a sad episode of what is developing in Nelson Mandela Bay,” he said.

Dodovu said the people of the Nelson Mandela Bay did not deserve a “crisis of this magnitude”.

“Do people of NMB deserve this treatment we are giving to them?

“Do they have to suffer in the way they suffer where there is no accountability about our public finances, where there is no consequence management for wrongdoing, and where it is business as usual?

“We need to turn things around — it can’t be business as usual we can’t fold our arms when there is a crisis of this magnitude.”

Lungisa did not take matters lying down and claimed that the multiparty government had inherited the problems from the DA-led coalition government, that it was cleaning up and that MPs should not pretend as if they were not aware of the political instabilities in the municipality.