- The Eastern Cape Cogta department says the Nelson Mandela Bay metro has no desire to elect a new mayor.
- The metro has been without an elected mayor since December 2019.
- This as National Treasury vows to withhold its R800 million grant funding if they do not fill the vacancy.
It's clear that the election of an executive mayor in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro is not a priority, Eastern Cape cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Makhaya Komisa told News24.
This comes as the metro's grant funding has been withheld by National Treasury.
On 6 June, Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ordered Eastern Cape Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha to urgently investigate the mayoral vacancy in Nelson Mandela Bay within seven days.
Komisa said the province had received no response from the municipality regarding the report.
Komisa said the delay was a result of the fight for the mayorship.
"The MEC has also been advised that the majority of councillors have petitioned the Speaker to convene a council meeting to specifically deal with this matter.
"In essence, parties in council are fighting over the position of the executive mayor. In our observation, that is the only reason why the vacancy has not been filled," he said.
The metro has been without a mayor since the UDM's Mongameli Bobani was booted out via a vote of no-confidence in December 2019.
Bobani was removed after his alliance with the ANC and the so-called Black Caucus coalition- made up of the UDM, AIC, United Front and the Patriotic Alliance - fell through.
His removal led to a vacuum in the city, forcing the ANC to vote in his deputy, Thsonono Buyeye, as acting mayor.
In a letter to the municipality in June, Treasury raised various concerns - including the vacant mayoral position.
Treasury also indicated it would be withholding the transfer of grant funds because of a litany of alleged transgressions and the flouting of the law.
The municipality has accused Treasury of gross interference.
News24 has seen a letter from Treasury deputy director-general for intergovernmental relations, Malijeng Ngqaleni, in which the metro was lambasted for a failure to table and adopt the 2020/21 budget and the draft Integrated Development Plan (IDP) in line with the law.
In the letter, dated 29 June, Ngqaleni listed allegations of several transgressions by the municipality and its council, including the serious and persistent breach of prescribed measures in Section 216(1) of the Constitution.
Ngqaleni added that this was a reflection of weak and poor governance on the municipality's part.
On the same day the council passed its adjustment budget, but the DA accused it of flouting procedure and added that it would take the matter to court.
City Press reported that Treasury sent a letter to the metro on Wednesday, in which Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo wrote: "The one critical reason that informed the intention to withhold the equitable share was the appointment of [Mveluni Mapu as acting municipal manager], which – in the absence of a council resolution – constituted an irregularity and an unlawful decision."
Between R800 million and R1.2 billion had been due to the metro for the remainder of this financial year.
"We are aware about the letter written by the National Treasury and share their concerns on the issues they have raised," Komisa said.