New Nelson Mandela Bay coalition govt under fire over male-dominated mayoral committee

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Newly elected Nelson Mandela Bay municipality mayor Retief Odendaal speaks during an interview in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Newly elected Nelson Mandela Bay municipality mayor Retief Odendaal speaks during an interview in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Die Burger
  • It's only a week since its election, but already the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition government is embroiled in controversy. 
  • The coalition partners are under fire for unveiling a 14-member mayoral committee consisting of only one woman.  
  • The partners are now planning a shake-up to make the committee more representative. 

The new coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay is expected to make changes to the male-dominated 14-member mayoral committee which sparked a huge backlash for only consisting of one woman. 

Corporate services portfolio mayoral committee member Annette Lovemore, from the DA, cuts a lonely figure in the male-dominated committee announced on Tuesday by Mayor Retief Odendaal. 

The DA has five positions in the committee, including that of the mayor, while other parties have one position each - all filled by men. 

READ ANC’s reign in Nelson Mandela Bay comes to chaotic end, leaving it with only two SA metros

The committee has been slammed by the public and political parties for the exclusion of women.  

The Eastern Cape ANC said it was astounded by the male-dominated committee announced by Odendaal.

Spokesperson Gift Ngqondi said Odendaal seemed hell-bent on reversing the gains that South African women had made.

NMB mayoral committee only has one woman.
Supplied Supplied

He added that the committee entrenched patriarchal tendencies and was an indictment on the "transformation agenda of our country". 

On Wednesday, Deputy Mayor Mkhuseli "Khusta" Jack confirmed to News24 that the coalition partners had a long discussion about the matter and had decided that a shake-up to introduce more women was needed. 

Jack said:

Based on SA's rigorous imperative of equalising gender disparity, there is no defence that can be mounted when we fall short in fulfilling our obligation. The matter was deliberated on at our meeting, and the justifiable outcry was accepted. We committed ourselves to do everything in our power to address our lack of female representation in our municipal leadership, and the societal disparity as a whole.

The DA, which had four positions to fill, excluding the mayor, only introduced one woman to the committee.  

All the other parties had one position each to fill, and do not have any women councillors.

In a scathing statement, Ngqondi ripped into the DA and Odendaal.   

It must sink [sic] to the DA and Retief that one of the most significant features of our country's Constitution is that the right to equality is held to be the cornerstone of the Constitution. We have a Constitution that entrenches equality, and yet we still have attitudes, beliefs, myths and practices that inhibit the freedom and emancipation of women by the likes of Odendaal and his ilk.

The ANC called on all political parties in Nelson Mandela Bay to reject the "gender exclusion" in the committee. 

However, DA provincial chairperson Andrew Whitfield said it was the party coalition partners who did not elect women, adding that his party had appointed Lovemore.

Odendaal was not to blame, he insisted. 

READ Nelson Mandela Bay: Opposition parties a step closer to ousting ANC as new coalition agreement signed

"The DA appointed only four of the members of the mayoral committee, one of whom is a highly qualified and experienced woman. The DA is not responsible for the deployments of the other political parties on the coalition. The DA has appointed the most fit for purpose team so that we can get NMB working again," said Whitfield. 

He said this had happened due to a lack of woman councillors among their coalition partners. 

Here is the full list:
  • Mayor - Retief Odendaal from the DA; 
  • Speaker - Gary van Niekerk from the NA; 
  • Deputy Mayor - Mkhuseli Jack from AIM; 
  • Chief whip of council - Bill Harington from FF Plus; 
  • Constituency Services MMC - Rano Kayser from the DA; 
  • Infrastructure and Engineering MMC - Dries van der Westhuyzen from the DA; 
  • Roads and Transport MMC - Kabelo Mogatosi from DA; 
  • Electricity and Energy MMC - Lance Grootboom from ACDP; 
  • Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture MMC - Luxolo Namette from UDM;
  • Human Settlements MMC - Tukela Zumani from the DOP, 
  • Public Health MMC - Thsonono Buyeye from AIC; 
  • Safety and Security MMC - Lawrence Troon from GOOD; 
  • Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture MMC - Bassie Kamana from PAC; and 
  • Corporate Services MMC - Annette Lovemore from the DA.

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