Forum seeks to mobilise residents to reclaim the Bay

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 22, 2014

The Nelson Mandela Bay Rate Payers Association, together with the Interdenominational African Ministers' Association of South Africa (IDAMASA), local political parties, social movements, labour movements, AfriForum and other non-governmental organizations from Nelson Mandela Bay, recently formed a community forum called the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro United Front and are calling on residents to join them in tackling issues such as corruption and municipal mismanagement in the Bay.

The forum has organised a Masithethisane - People's Dialogues event which will be held at Walmer High School today at 17.00hrs. A similar event will be held in Motherwell on the 28th of October while the dates for events in PE’s northern areas were not yet confirmed.

Nelson Mandela Bay Ratepayers Association Chairperson, Kobus Gerber, said that the dialogues, held under the Reclaim our Metro (ROM) Campaign, were meant to give local residents a voice.

“It gives the normal man in the street an opportunity to communicate with officials and politicians from local government about how corruption, [mismanagement] and crime are affecting our economy which in turn causes unemployment and [hurts] investment opportunities,” he said.

“We basically are giving the consumer the platform to [voice their] frustrations towards politicians.

“We all have had enough of empty promises – [since] the MEC, Mr Gordhan and Mr Zuma came to visit the Metro last year, we saw no change. [S]o all the politicians are doing and been doing for the last number of years is to give the people ‘Hope’ and [not] deliver on those promises - people are losing hope and getting frustrated with that and it also creates more crime in our Metro. This time, we will force changes and will not settling nothing less than seeing change.”

Gerber said that it was important for every local tax/rate payer to attend the dialogues.

“Everybody, we need to know that we are all taxpayers in the country [whether] you employed or not. Whatever we buy today is taxed - fuel, and VAT on most goods and food. So everybody is welcome. Corruption has no skin colour and affects everyone in the Metro,” he said.

“…all ratepayers, consumers and business are paying the price for what corruption is doing to our city, education and health departments are in a bad state and [that] is [hampering] services to the people of this city. Only the unity of all people will force change in local and national government. The people of this Metro need to be heard.”

According to the invites the ratepayers association sent out, the topics to be discussed at the dialogues is the growing unaccountability of our elected representatives and widespread maladministration within local government; the growing “cancer of corruption”; the absence of ethical and good governance; the state of education; the state of health; crime and unemployment and poverty.

Gerber said he believes such a platform would effect change in how government, and in particular, the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, was conducting its affairs.

“…you need to know that the same masses we want to mobilise are the ones who got the ANC in power and if we can proof to the masses that corruption in the ANC [is] withholding growth in the city, [the] country and slowing our economy down which prevent[s] jobs opportunities and investments, the masses will not vote and we already saw in the last election how NMBM voting changed over the last few years.

He added that resolutions from the dialogues would be taken to independent bodies for consideration.

“We will not turn to city hall, it’s too corrupt. We will take [them] to the other authorities like we [did] with the NMBM corruption report we recently released. You can`t go and tell corrupt politicians to investigate themselves for corruption. That’s why no prosecution was done in the Kabuso and Pikoli report until date,” he said.