Lungisa denies causing chaos in NMB council, as new mayor Nqaba Bhanga vows to root out corruption

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Nqaba Bhanga,was elected as the new mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay on Friday.
Nqaba Bhanga,was elected as the new mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay on Friday.
(Lulama Zenzile, Netwerk24)
  • Nqaba Bhanga was elected as the eighth mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay metro following a chaotic council meeting on Friday night.
  • During the lengthy council meeting, three men stormed the chamber and forcibly removed council speaker Bulelwa Mafaya. 
  • Bhanga alleged during a television interview that the men were Mafaya and former councillor Andile Lungisa's bodyguards.
  • He accused the two ANC politicians of being behind a staging of an attempted kidnapping to disturb the meeting called to elect a new mayor.

Newly-elected Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga said his appointment marked the beginning of a new chapter in which politics would be put aside, with the focus on fixing Nelson Mandela Bay.

He was speaking on Saturday at his first press conference as mayor of the embattled municipality, a day after he was elected to the position during a chaotic council meeting on Friday.

During the lengthy council meeting, three men stormed the chambers and forcibly removed council speaker Bulelwa Mafaya.  

The Patriotic Alliance's Marlon Daniels was nominated by parties to take Mafaya's seat.

Bhanga was elected at the meeting, presided over by Daniels, according to HeraldLive.

UPDATE | The DA's Nqaba Bhanga is the new mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay

In an interview on eNCA, Bhanga accused former councillor Andile Lungisa and Mafaya of orchestrating the chaos that happened in the council meeting, saying it was the ANC pair's bodyguards who staged Mafaya's removal from the council chamber.

Speaking to News24, Lungisa denied the allegations and accused Bhanga of using his name to gain "relevance".

Lungisa said the bodyguards were taking part in a protest due to a long standing pay dispute with the municipality.

I am not a holy spirit, I cannot be in many places at once. I did not enter the council chambers. I was standing under a tree. I will not allow black puppets of the old regime to loosely use my name. Even Bhanga found me under that tree and greeted me and we had a chat. Rano Kayser also found me there and we had a chat. Later on, when problems arose in council, he insinuates things about me. He is a charlatan. Outside that council chamber there were three protests by plumbers, security personnel and artists.

Lungisa was released on parole on Tuesday after spending two months of a two-year prison sentence behind bars.

He was convicted and sentenced in 2018 for smashing a glass jug on the head of Rano Kayser during a council meeting in 2016.

Bhanga said he knew Lungisa's release on parole would spell trouble for the City and accused Lungisa of breaking his parole conditions.

Asked about the breach of parole claims by Bhanga, Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo told News24: "Parole conditions are not made public as they are between the parolee and the Department of Correctional Services. They are specifically there for monitoring purposes and to assist a parolee to adjust and start living a normal life. Some of the features though are the same for all people placed on parole.

"This will talk to parolees sharing their schedule with their parole officers. They are also expected to be found home between certain hours. Should there be a deviant conduct, Correctional Services is then obliged to launch an investigation," said Nxumalo.

Lungisa said:

I know my name is fashionable, he [Bhanga] must go and hang himself; he is a small boy who wants to be relevant using my name.

News24 asked Nelson Mandela Bay Metro spokesperson Mamela Ndamase about Lungisa's claims that the disruption in council was due to bodyguards protesting.

Ndamase said: "The municipality is not aware of a protest that took place yesterday outside any of the venues."

During the mayoral press conference, Bhanga said he would root out corruption at the municipality and restore law and order.

'A coalition of good governance' 

"A coalition of good governance is back in City Hall, and we ask that citizens, businesses, civic and religious organisations as well as all municipal staff, officials and councillors to rally behind this coalition. We cannot do this on our own. We need your help."

On top of a comprehensive turnaround programme that was expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks, Bhanga said he would tackle Covid-19.

The rampant spread of Covid-19 in Nelson Mandela Bay needs to be addressed head-on. We will be calling a briefing session with the head of our city's Disaster Management office, and every effort to mitigate against the spread of the virus must be embarked upon. This includes ramping up public awareness campaigns immediately.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared Nelson Mandela Bay Metro a hotspot and reinstated stringent restrictions on alcohol sales, religious gatherings and funerals, due to the high number of Covid-19 cases in the metro.

Bhanga also promised to request the City's Budget and Treasury Office to brief the council on the state of the metro's finances, and the impact Covid-19 on it.

Other areas he promised to tackle were the drought, cutting of grass, repairing of potholes, fixing of water leaks and broken streetlights.

"Our administration has been battered and bruised by compromised officials. We must fast track the appointments of acting executive directors who are not compromised and where necessary, fill vacancies where they exist."

Bhanga also promised to reduce an 80 000 housing backlog in the city.

He said:

I extend the hand of friendship and partnership to all residents, businesses, ratepayers, civic and religious organisations and again ask you all to help us on the journey ahead. We cannot undo the damage alone - we need your support.

Vowing to root out corruption and intimidation, Bhanga claimed 21 people were assassinated because of wrong decisions taken by the council. He did not elaborate any further on the claim.

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