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On Thursday we have an opportunity to take back NMB from the criminals who have captured it and are bleeding it dry. The scheduled motion of no confidence in the mayor is a chance to restore dignity to the people of the city, writes Mmusi Maimane.
Dear church leaders of Nelson Mandela Bay,
I thank you for your heartfelt and considered open letter to myself and President Cyril Ramaphosa about the worrying developments in the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) metro. Please know that I am fully aware of the situation there and that I share every single concern you raised. These issues are receiving my full attention.
The DA is committed to finding a solution in NMB that will serve its citizens until 2021, and not simply create a revolving door of mayors. This solution needs to satisfy the complexities of a coalition government, and so it is crucial that it is based on the values that we share: the rule of law, non-racialism, a market-based economy and the eradication of corruption.
I know that coalitions can be difficult, but they are also the future of politics in this country. In this regard we appreciate the support of parties such as Cope and ACDP who have stood by us and the people of NMB. And while we have a signed an agreement with the UDM to remain in the coalition, it is now common cause that this party and its leadership have not sought to hold the mayor accountable, let alone stick to the coalition agreement.
The deterioration of the metro over the past two years is an insult to its residents, many of whom exercised their democratic right in 2016 and voted for change. The reality is that the people of NMB spoke in that election: 47% of them voted for a DA government. This made the DA the biggest party in the metro. It enabled us to lead a coalition government intent on bringing change to the city and turning the tide on the decay of the previous two decades.
A remarkable turnaround
In two short years the turnaround was remarkable. Under the DA-led government the City became financially liquid for the first time with over R2bn in the bank. It received an AAA credit rating. It achieved record levels of spending in its first full financial year and it shortened turnaround times on crucial administrative functions like building plan approvals and rates clearances.
The DA-led coalition also delivered the city's first ever Metro Police Force. It introduced shot-spotter technology to help in the fight against gang crime. It finally got the long-overdue IPTS busses on the roads of NMB. It installed hundreds of streetlights, resurfaced 56 000 square meters of road, eradicated almost 10 000 bucket toilets and tripled the number of EPWP jobs created.
Importantly, it also exposed and halted corrupt City contracts to the value of R615m. This is what triggered the fight-back by what has now become known as the Coalition of Corruption: the ANC, EFF and UDM. Milking the metro through crooked contracts has been, for decades, the driving force behind the government in NMB. Closing the taps on this criminal enterprise was never going to go unchallenged.
Just over a year ago, the Coalition of Corruption overthrew the DA-led administration and replaced it with the very looters who had been robbing the metro blind. It didn't take long before the effects of this were clear. Budgets that had been 100% spent under the DA were now being underspent by large margins. Suddenly the City was at risk of losing half a billion rand in roll-over grant funding and R3bn in new funding.
The City was once again flouting supply chain regulations. It started bringing back all the previously-suspended officials, regardless of their guilt. It started to illegally appoint acting executive directors and an acting city manager. The web of corruption that had all but been destroyed by the DA-led coalition was now being rebuilt, piece by piece. A city that had become the most trusted metro after just one year of DA-led government was now under threat of being placed under provincial administration.
To give you an idea of just how dangerous this crime syndicate masquerading as a government is, consider that the R21m drain-cleaning contract that was awarded irregularly under Mayor Mongameli Bobani has already been linked to at least 16 assassinations. But that R21m is small fry compared to the R500m he now wants to dispense to SMMEs over the next three years without following correct procedures. This is all just a bid to remain protected and in power.
A chance to take back the city
On Thursday we have an opportunity to take back the City from the criminals who have captured it and who are, once again, bleeding it dry. The scheduled motion of no confidence in Bobani is a chance to restore order and the rule of law in this council, and to restore dignity to the people of NMB. It is a chance to place the NMB council in the service of the people once more.
I give you my assurance that this is not vindictiveness or political point scoring, but a genuine attempt to fix the city. To do so we have to remove Bobani, place a moratorium on appointments, and hold the municipality while we negotiate the best possible government to take the City to 2021.
I know the looters won't go down without a fight. When the corrupt stand to lose access to the trough that has been feeding them so well, they will do anything to avert this. Already we know that the United Front – this Coalition of Corruption's latest member – has vowed, through its leader Lungile Mxube, to shed blood if necessary in preventing the motion of no confidence from taking place. That is the kind of mafia organisation we are dealing with.
We see the same threats of violence in defence of this corrupt network from ANC councillor and convicted assaulter, Andile Lungisa. He has threatened to remove case files "by force" from the offices of a law firm if they don't voluntarily return them to the municipality. These files relate to various disciplinary cases against suspended City officials, including a case of collusion to loot the City's bus system. The demand to return the files was made by Bobani's partner in crime, acting city manager Mvuleni Mapu, on his very first day in office.
Anyone can see what's going on here. Bobani is surrounding himself with his cronies, and they are trying to protect their corrupt empire at all cost. All this while his leader, Bantu Holomisa, simply shrugs and looks the other way. This is not, as Holomisa claims, simply "boys fighting among themselves". It is a clear and direct attack on the City of Nelson Mandela Bay by a crime syndicate. If Holomisa sees no reason to get involved, then one has to ask serious questions about his commitment to the rule of law and to the people of NMB.
Equally, one has to ask questions of the EFF about their role in sustaining this Coalition of Corruption. They were instrumental in bringing it to power, and now they are vocal in their criticism of it. But yet they are happy to sit on their hands and watch them loot instead of voting them out. This is a simple choice: You are either against the corruption, or you are for it. There is no middle ground here. I urge the EFF to vote on Thursday to remove corruption, as it did when it voted with us in a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
While it is not clear what will transpire in Thursday's motion of no confidence, I give you my assurance that the DA is, and always will be, 100% committed to restoring order to the metro and service delivery to its people. The DA in NMB worked hard for two years to fill the tank of this metro. We will not sit by and watch as the looters empty it again.
If you, as church and community leaders in this city, want to play your part, then I urge to support our efforts to rid the municipality of the toxic influence of Mayor Mongameli Bobani. Use your considerable influence to put pressure on those who can vote him out, including his leader, Bantu Holomisa. Because until that happens, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro will not flourish and its people will not be free.
I thank you in advance for your support, and for your prayers.
Leader, Democratic Alliance
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