Coalition steering NMBM away from troubled waters

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Moody's recent upgrading of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s credit profile is testament to good governance

Nelson Mandela Bay is open for business and investment.

In under two years, this coalition government has transformed the city’s financial status, laying a solid foundation for job creation.

Our metro’s recent AA1.3a to AAA.3a credit rating upgrade positions the city among the most desirable on the continent for those businesses wishing to expand their investment footprint in Africa.

Two weeks back, Aspen Pharmacare, South Africa’s largest pharmaceutical company, officially unveiled its new R1-billion high containment facility in Korsten.

The company’s latest investment augurs well for the metro as it bolsters much-needed job creation.

But more importantly, it enhances our economic outlook, which has sadly been following a path of stagnation.

These positive developments are most encouraging, especially coming on the back of what has been described as the disastrous administration of our predecessors, who allowed maladministration to severely compromise this city’s economic prospects.

We have, through strong governance and based on the promise of turning this municipality around, strengthened our supply chain management systems and upped the ante in the collection rate of service fees.

For years, supply chain management systems were flouted to benefit a cabal of politically connected people who looted taxpayer’s money while the city went into a tailspin.

The delivery of basic services suffered as political infighting and looting preoccupied those who had the mandate to provide political leadership and governance.

We have, in our first year in government, dealt with corruption by suspending senior officials who were implicated in corrupt activities.

Today, as the coalition government, we are proud that we are steering this ship away from troubled waters. And proof of this is the recent credit opinion from Moody’s on our financial position for the 2016-17 financial year.

Our ratings internationally have significantly improved, from a negative outlook to a stable economic outlook.

Moody’s provides credit rating, research and risk analysis services, and is one of the leading global entities in this regard.

This is, therefore, a welcome recognition as it validates our commitment to bringing meaningful change, through clean governance, in Nelson Mandela Bay.

A city where there is zero tolerance for corruption and taxpayer’s money is safeguarded, and accounted for.

The spinoff of such leadership is the guarantee that all money allocated for the provision of basic services is spent for its intended purpose to uplift targeted and neglected communities.

In the last two years, since assuming leadership of this metro, we have worked tirelessly under extremely challenging conditions to deliver on our mandate to resuscitate this city’s economic fortunes and place it shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best-performing metros in the country.
This indicates that there is already an improvement.

You would remember that Moody’s colourful report on the metro’s current fiscal status comes on the back of the auditor-general’s qualified audit opinion for the 2016-17 financial year.

Through strategic planning, driven by a capable and committed team within the budget and treasury directorate, we were able to turn things around.

This achievement is worth celebrating because, for the first time in years, the metro can be justifiably proud of its financial position.

It is for this reason too that we were recently awarded a R178-million windfall by the National Treasury for our exceptional performance as the municipality in utilising 100% of our Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG).

This endorses our coalition government’s work since coming into office in August 2016.

With many service delivery areas needing urgent attention, these funds will go a long way to improving the lives of residents living in township communities. These are communities that are perched on the rungs of poor service delivery and where redress needs prioritisation to take Nelson Mandela Bay forward.

We appreciate the support of the ANC when it supported the allocation of the windfall grant to our existing budget.

For the city, the economic benefits from Moody’s endorsement are immeasurable.

Not only does our new-found fiscal status put us on the map as an administratively fit institution, but also as a strategic economic destination for prospective investors, both domestically and abroad.

New investments are what our city needs, with all the economic benefits they pose for the city’s growth, especially in the area of job creation.

I would like to make a clarion call on all metro stakeholders, to ride the wave of our enhanced image and ensure that we strengthen our efforts in creating a world-class city.

The tide is turning in our city. Just last year, Nelson Mandela Bay was voted the second-most trusted metro municipality in the country, up from second-last position in 2016, according to the latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi).

For many years, the people of this municipality were subjected to maladministration, corruption and incompetence, and were at the mercy of a political leadership who lacked the necessary values and vision to make this city successful.

Through strong visionary leadership, Nelson Mandela Bay is beginning to take its rightful place in South Africa.

The recognition of our work by highly respected entities such as Moody’s and SAcsi recognises our collective efforts.

For a city that carries the name of such a highly respected political icon and apartheid struggle hero, it is our duty as the political leadership, through responsible governance, to ensure that Nelson Mandela’s legacy is not betrayed.

Madiba envisioned South Africa as a prosperous country where its sons and daughters, black and white, worked towards a shared vision for the benefit of all.

As such, this coalition government remains resolute in its commitment to creating a city that is founded on the principles of creating equal opportunities for all.

This city will continue to go from strength to strength and will be hardly recognisable at the end of this term of governance.