Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay hots up as the ANC fights back

2015-05-05 10:14
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Theana Breugem/Foto24

Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Theana Breugem/Foto24

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ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the ruling party was looking at strengthening the leadership capacity of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, both politically and administratively.

Mantashe addressed the media at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro council chambers at the Old Wood Exchange building in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

The media briefing followed marathon meetings with six branch clusters of the ruling party on Sunday and other similar, closed meetings with the regional task team, the provincial executive committee and the leadership of the municipality yesterday.

The top six officials of the ANC and national working committee led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning amid reports of an impending shake-up at the beleaguered metro.

President Jacob Zuma arrived in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Mantashe did not announce a reshuffle but admitted that the party faced challenges.

“We are comfortable that organisational work is being done. There are still some challenges here and there that we must attend to. We have received a technical report as well on the running of the municipality.

“And we have identified serious problems relating to capacity and outright manipulation of processes. Areas that come out very strong, as worrying, are in the area of human settlements, bulk infrastructure and youth development,” Mantashe said.

He said the party would thoroughly study the reports and finalise their intervention into the municipality on May 18.

The party would head back to the metro after concluding a national executive committee meeting on May 17, when the metro problems would be discussed.

“When we come back, it will be to implement the decision of the ANC,” Mantashe said.

He refuted claims they were paying attention to the metro due to pressure of possible losing it to opposition parties in next year’s local government elections.

“We are a political movement working in the same space as all other political parties. I am not sure whether we should be worried about political parties that are in opposition to us.

“What we should be worried about is what we are doing to fulfil the aspirations and interests of the people who voted for us – that is what is preoccupying us,” Mantashe said.

He said other parties would always try to contest the space of the ANC, not only at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

His remarks come in the wake of opposition parties looking to stake their claim, with the Economic Freedom Fighters, Democratic Alliance and the United Front, which launches in June, all having their sights on the metro.

The ANC’s moves came hot on the heels of an announcement by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to invest R4.6 billion on a housing project at the metro.

Mantashe said housing was a source of many problems for the metro and that it was time that houses were “effectively” delivered there.

Meanwhile, for the past two days, the usually quiet Military Road was a hive of activity as the ANC big guns in their huge black SUVs took over and all exit points were closed off.

Mantashe said when they disbanded the ANC’s regional leadership last December they had only intervened organisationally, but had not touched the municipal side, until now.

He said that when the ANC returned to the metro on May 18 they would also intervene in the municipality side of things.

“You must know when we come after the national executive meeting it’s because we don’t want to steam ahead without bouncing the issues off the national executive committee, which is the highest decision-making body of the ANC,” Mantashe said.

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