Businessperson and former anti-apartheid activist Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack saw the collapse and deteriorating state of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and felt compelled to do something.
In April, he launched a resident’s movement – Abantu Integrity Movement (AIM) – to improve service delivery to the people in the metro. And now Jack has put up his hand to become the next mayor of the highly contested municipality at the upcoming local government elections.
“I needed to do something. The situation is pathetic. [It is] worse [in] the municipality; the administration deteriorated to a level that is like ipotsoyi [a street party]. There is no order; there is no dignity that is needed to be exemplified in a situation where you are governing the affairs of people.
“If there’s no respectability at the level of the administration and the political leadership of the city, then you cannot expect to find it on the streets,” Jack told City Press this week.
In fact, one of Jack’s first priorities should he become mayor is to deal with safety and security in the bay.
In the past five months, he says, he has been consulting with several people with safety and security knowledge, some of whom are former police and former soldiers, about the strategies that can be used in the metro to “isolate criminals”.
“I will close all the loopholes and squeeze them out of the CBD and Nelson Mandela Bay, and they will have to find another place where they can operate,” he said.
Jack believes that if he can get rid of crime in the bay, the rest of the challenges will become easier to tackle. He says investors will flock to the area because they will no longer have to look over their shoulders for criminals.
He believes that part of squeezing the criminals and drug lords out of the bay will entail making sure that young people are occupied through sports, arts, culture and employment so that the drug peddlers no longer have a market.
He says that AIM is not bringing a new plan, but will rather work with the resources that are already available:
Jack, however, says AIM will look at the needs of the people, evaluate existing resources and then work in phases to service the residents.
“Even if we get 100% [of the vote], it doesn’t change the existing budget. We have to work with what we have; we just need to be clean and come clean with our people and tell them: ‘The budget is like this for housing, for water, for electricity supply and so on, and this is what we can do for this financial year,’” even if it means “building one house” in a financial year. That is what Jack says he will do instead of making empty promises that he cannot keep.
“I’m a pragmatic person. I’m not a dreamer, I have never been one, and I don’t want to be one. Because if there’s no money, there will be no money. You can’t do anything to make money if it doesn’t exist.”
AIM is contesting all 60 wards in the metro. Jack says it is up to the electorate to make the final decision about who should wear the mayoral chain.
“At the end of the day, I want to be happy with my soul and sit back and say I did all that I could have done. But I’m the most prepared man for the job in the country, not just in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“This is a job I never wanted to do, but this is a job I can do.”