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Executive Mayor Trollip publicly responds to ANC demands

By Jesica Slabbert - Dec 14, 2016
Executive Mayor Trollip publicly responds to ANC demands

Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, on Wednesday morning publicly responded to several issues raised in a Memorandum of Demands that was handed to his office during a march led by the African National Congress (ANC) in the Nelson Mandela Bay early in December.

In the petition, the ANC and its other stakeholders raised concern at how the Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition has been running the municipality’s affairs since taking office in August after the 2016 Local Government Elections.

The grievances mainly focused on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS), employment, the suspension of officials, basic service delivery, the Assistance to the Poor (ATTP) Project, corruption, Human Settlements, land, the council meeting brawl that occurred in October, the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and budget meetings, so-called racial slurs that occurred at Ward 40 of Nelson Mandela Bay and finally the Metro Police.

“I was given a petition on the day of our last council meeting, and the petition comes from the ANC regional task team leadership, which I suppose also includes the ANC in the council and the ANC leadership in council,” Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, told reporters at press conference held at City Hall.

“I was a bit confused about the petition because there are a number of things in the petition that were raised with me with the ANC leadership of council, and we reached an agreement on those issues.

“So, the reason I am putting all of this in public is to put it into context. It’s not as if this administration conducts its business in isolation with all the other political parties. In fact I have had meetings with all political parties, including the ANC, so to receive a petition and when a small group of people outside the council chamber threatening to break in to hand in this petition is very unusual.”

On Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS)

In its petition, the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay claimed that the DA had decided, unilaterally and without resolution of council, to bypass all council and procurement procedures despite objections from transport stakeholders.

The party said that this was done in ‘cahoots’ with the newly-appointed director of the IPTS, who had a previous conviction in Polokwane. They demanded that the previous conviction at Polokwane be probed and that the director be put on Precautionary suspension.

Trollip said that the system itself was actually originally implemented by the former ANC administration, and that they were never able to provide any semblance of the IPTS despite expending more than R2 billion.

With regards to the ANC’s claims about the new IPTS director, Trollip said that she was also actually employed by the previous ANC administration.

On employment

The ANC had stated that the Deputy Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani, had been participating in nepotism and corruption by hiring his ‘cousin sister’ and creating a position for her in his office.

The ANC demanded that many officials hired by the new administration be probed for irregular employment practices.

Trollip responded by stating that if the ANC could provide any evidence to the allegations, they would be investigated.  He insisted that his administration has so far employed people solely because they were found to be suitable, competent candidates.

On suspensions

In its petition, the ANC stated that there was an excess of prolonged suspensions of officials with no apparent urgency to resolve them in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. It claimed that the DA-led coalition has been harassing certain ANC officials.

Trollip agreed saying that the unresolved suspensions are a problem to the operations of the Metro. He, however, said that his administration has been acting swiftly to try and resolve all outstanding suspensions and said that no harassment has been done against any municipal employees on any basis.

On basic service delivery

The ANC demanded that the DA immediately cease the switching off of residents electricity with its Credit Control Policy and that the residents have now fallen victim because of ‘white’ businesses and government departments that had not been paying for their electricity.

The party demanded that the R350 penalty re-connection fee be scrapped and that big businesses and government departments should be forced to pay outstanding services that are in arrears.

Trollip’s response was that the Credit Control Policy was brought in by the ANC, and that all residents in arrears are free to go to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and make arrangements for clearing their arrears as written within the Policy. He also stated that all those in arrears will be treated equitably - this includes businesses and government departments.

On assistance to the poor project

The ANC had stated in their petition that the DA-led coalition government had abolished the ATTP Project that was meant to assist the poor and vulnerable in the Bay by providing with basic services to deserving residents. They, therefore, demanded that it be reinstated and that the status of residents should be reviewed annually.

“The allegation that the DA coalition has scrapped the ATTP policy is an indication of just how little credibility this so called ‘petition’ holds,” Trollip stated.

He stated that the ATTP Project was never scrapped, that, in fact, the number of beneficiaries has increased since the DA-led coalition took office. He said that the administration was ensuring that the beneficiaries would be evaluated to ensure that only those, who qualify for ATTP assistance benefit.

On corruption

In its petition, the ANC had demanded that the Deputy Executive Mayor’s alleged employment corruption be probed and his alleged corruption tender processes of Public Health be investigated.

Trollip declared that a provision of prima facie evidence for the allegations would guarantee an investigation.

On human settlements

The ANC had demanded that the National and Provincial government’s role in the Metro’s human settlements arm be supported and not interfered with. The party said that the ANC will continue to fight any form of corruption.

“The ANC track record in fighting corruption has been nowhere better exposed for its paucity than in human settlements. This is what we have inherited and we will have to turn this around,” Trollip replied.

He also stated that the DA has not been implicated in maladministration and corruption, and they contest to the necessity for National and Provincial intervention in human settlements.

Agriculture forestry and fisheries

The ANC demanded that this industry be speedily transformed and that cooperation with women and youth be supported as well as for working conditions to be improved. It said that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries must ensure that they stop the dominance of a “rich circle of white friends” in this sector.

Trollip advised that the ANC takes their requests in this matter to the relevant department at the Provincial and National level as the NMBM has no jurisdiction on these matters.

On land

The ANC in the Bay said that land continues to be an issue locally and questioned why available pieces of land were apparently being given to white people to build shopping complexes in black townships.

The party demanded that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality should ensure that land is available to all racial groups in the Metro, that an audit report of available land be made and given to stakeholders and any corruption on issuing land to white people be investigated.

Trollip agreed that land should be available to all racial groups. He said land audits should be done in order to expose any irregular transactions with land owners. With regards to land being given out to white businessmen, he said that this can be investigated if prima facie evidence is provided.

He said if land was indeed sold to a select few, it probably happened under the watch of the previous ANC administration.

On the Metro Police

The ANC had expressed concern that the new Metro Police officers do not appear in crime ‘hot spots’. The party also demanded that the new Metro Police Chief, Yolanda Faro, be investigated for her suitability for the position.

Trollip, who appointed Faro, said that the Metro Police’s presence will become more and more evident across the city as they continue to grow and hire more qualified and competent officers.

He also said that investigations into Faro’s qualifications had been taken care of during the interview process and that she was found to be fully-qualified.

Trollip is expected to handover his response to the ANC in the Bay on Thursday.