Former firebrand, anti-apartheid activist and renowned community leader Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack has lambasted previous and current Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality leaders for mismanagement, saying it is the ultimate insult to the memory of the statesman that a metro named after him has been allowed to deteriorate so much.
Officially launching his residents’ movement – the Abantu Integrity Movement (AIM) – and its 10-point plan in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, this week, the activist-turned-entrepreneur said the metro urgently needed to be rescued from corrupt and incompetent politicians who have caused mass destruction.
The 10-point plan is a blueprint aimed at improving service delivery to residents by bringing in competent municipal administrators with integrity who are dedicated to serving the residents.
“I believe I echo the sentiment of millions of people across South Africa when I say it’s the ultimate insult to the memory of a great man, an international icon, the father of our nation, that a metro named after him has been allowed to deteriorate to the state it is in now,” said Jack.
“You would have thought those who picked up the leadership baton from him, and claim to have been his comrades, would at least have tried to share his values and to emulate what he stood for.
“Unfortunately, the reality of our people today is far removed from the better life for all they have been promised at every turn by the governing party since the dawn of democracy.”
Jack emphasised that AIM was not a political party but a residents’ pressure group advocating good governance, competent leadership and excellent service to all the Nelson Mandela Bay metro residents.
AIM will contest the coming local government elections, but only in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“We have a new vision to save our metro, which has been at the mercy of hyenas,” he said at a well-attended function in the city centre.
Membership of the movement is open to people of all races – with integrity.
Already a structure is in place to run the movement, with each of the members assigned a particular portfolio that suits their professional training.
It is envisaged that, in the event AIM wins the local government election, this team will morph into the council’s executive committee.
The 10-point plan to get the metro back on track consists of portfolios such as service delivery and infrastructure, economic development, community development, environmental affairs, youth development and fiscal discipline.
One aspect of the plan is called city vision and its aim is to implement a new vision that will guide the development of the metro into a business and lifestyle hub.
It is also intended to separate the council from the administration of the municipality as politicians often manipulate municipal officials to either advance their individual interests or their political party’s interests.
“AIM is a movement to improve service delivery to all our communities, and put the metro back on track to being a business and lifestyle city of choice,” Jack said.
“AIM seeks to put in place a credible council of competent public representatives who will put the interest of residents first.”
Khusta, as he is affectionately called by his friends, described himself as a seasoned community activist, a former anti-apartheid campaigner, a successful businessperson, a proud family man, a published author and a dog lover.
The movement is not affiliated to any political party – it is an independent organisation driven by the residents of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro and is directly answerable to them.
AIM has managed to co-opt some former senior ANC members, including Mike Xego, a close ally of Jack and a former provincial MP; and Mpumi Odolo, a former councillor.
The metro had been bedevilled by serious political instability over the years, causing it to be run by coalitions. Since 2016, this dysfunctional municipality has had five mayors.
Service delivery is nonexistent because political wrangling has been the order of the day at the expense of residents, most of whom use their hard-earned cash to pay their rates and for other services.
Jack led massive anti-apartheid consumer boycotts in what was then Port Elizabeth in the 1970s.
He felt betrayed by “the ANC after the party lost its original principles propounded by the founders”.
He left the party in 2008.