Stop the circus in Nelson Mandela Bay – premier Oscar Mabuyane
Catalytic projects on the cards for Nelson Mandela Bay will never materialise if the council continues to conduct its business like a circus.
And the provincial government will not sit back and watch as politicians use the administration to settle political scores.
These were Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane’s sentiments as he delivered his maiden state of the province address in the Bhisho legislature on Friday.
Mabuyane aired his views on the situation in the metro as he announced the establishment of a local government dashboard to monitor and evaluate project implementation in municipalities.
It comes as the city passed the 2019/2020 budget after four previous attempts failed.
At a fifth sitting to consider the budget it was eventually passed after Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels joined the ANC/UDM-led coalition.
The chaotic series of events in the council saw Mabuyane send co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha and finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko to observe the last council meeting.
Mabuyane said major municipalities such as Nelson Mandela Bay and OR Tambo district municipality were simply not spending infrastructure grants.
“What we are not going to do is use municipal administrations to solve political problems. Political parties must come on board and play the game,” Mabuyane said.
“We can’t have municipalities that are in a state of chaos perpetually. We can’t allow this perennial behaviour of destabilising municipalities,” he said.
“It just can’t work and it must stop. Our municipalities must be focused because without them we can’t have this national development plan implemented.”
Mabuyane urged mayors, speakers and chief whips to know their roles in councils.
“Municipalities must focus. Our main municipalities are performing badly in spending infrastructure grants and as provincial government we will not sit aside and fold our arms, we will intervene.”
The ongoing crisis in Nelson Mandela Bay “means the plans will never be realised if that circus continues”, Mabuyane said.
In the first week of June the municipality had spent less than half of its grants for capital projects, with the next financial year coming into effect on Monday.
If the money is not spent or committed by Monday the municipality will have to apply for a roll-over from the National Treasury.
Treasury had previously warned it would not grant rollover applications to municipalities without a permanent chief financial officer.
Explaining the dashboard to monitor infrastructure grant spending at municipalities, Mabuyane said it would help municipalities avoid returning unspent infrastructure grants.
At an earlier session with the media, Nqatha said the dashboard would assist Cogta monitor municipal spending at the mere click of a button.
Nqatha said the dashboard would go as far as monitoring the filling of critical vacancies for municipal managers and chief financial officers.
“The dashboard is going to ensure that municipalities are encouraged to capture important information about performance. Part of the performance areas relates to infrastructure grants – we should be able to load that information on a dashboard so we will be able to access that from cellphones.”
Nqatha said the dashboard would eventually have details surrounding ward-based projects and the integrated development plan of municipalities.