It’s time for coalition to act
On Friday, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani stood on the steps of the Port Elizabeth City Hall and made a bold promise which he knew he would not fulfil.
Bobani told a group of small business owners who are desperate for work that R500m worth of municipal projects would come their way in the next three years.
Let’s be clear – the municipality has a mandate to create a conducive environment for businesses, big and small, to thrive.
It also has a political obligation to ensure that in a poor city such as ours, its procurement policies are geared progressively towards helping small enterprises, in particular, to grow sustainably.
But do not be fooled.
Bobani’s promise had nothing to do with creating opportunities for SMMEs.
His disregard for procedure and a lack of appreciation of the realities of the municipal purse tell us that much.
Furthermore, he knows that the last time a similar promise was made unilaterally to SMMEs over a drain-cleaning project, deadly anarchy followed.
Bobani’s actions are about one thing – populism for self-preservation.
The point is to use the promise of municipal resources to turn a group of people genuinely wanting work into a patronage-seeking mob he can call upon to protect his position, through any means necessary, when his power is threatened.
This is why he told the crowd on Friday that other parties wanted him out because he wanted to give money to SMMEs.
That reckless promise is one of the series of shameless decisions the mayor has taken since the day he began twirling on the mayoral chair, revelling in new power.
His appointment of a legally underqualified official, Nobuntu Mpongwana, to act as city manager is perhaps most telling of his intent to accumulate unquestioned power over the administration.
Subsequently, her appointment of Karel Kramer, also underqualified, as acting CFO must be understood as part of the mayor’s grand plan to turn the metro into his personal fiefdom with no semblance of legality.
In recent days, Bobani has demonstrated that he is a man willing to break every rule to get his way. He has done so with impunity. But to what end?
So far his coalition partners have dithered, watching in horror the unmitigated disaster they unleashed on this city more than a year ago.
It is a mess they created.
It is time they stepped up to fix it.
- Nwabisa Makunga.