In the light of continued political bickering by the elected leaders of all parties in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, the Civil Society Coalition has decided to support the changing of the municipality from one led by an executive mayor to one led by an executive committee within a ward participatory system.
The amendment has been gazetted by Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) MEC, Xolile Nqatha.
“Our metro is on the verge of collapse and urgent action is needed to break the political stalemate and circus the council has become,” said Civil Society Coalition chair, Mongameli Peter, after a meeting of the coalition partners.
“The decision to support the MEC is consistent with our position taken when it became clear that the coalitions were fragile and plagued by continued political bickering. What we need is a government of local unity”.
There has been political instability since 2016, he says.
“We have met with the main political parties and urged them to voluntarily cooperate in order to save the metro which has all but collapsed, but they continue to put party politics and personal agendas ahead of the needs of the residents”.
The coalition is a broad affiliation of organisations representing business, labour, youth, the elderly, learning institutions, environmental and religious formations.
It believes that the state of the metro, which has sewage running in the streets, a water crisis, unreliable power, potholes and hundreds of streetlights not working, is so serious that the metro is busy collapsing.
“We cannot waste more time and resident’s money on endless legal challenges.
“Council needs to meet in order to pass resolutions and budgets, and for the committees to do their work,” says Peter.
“What we are fighting for is the life of the metro. Our local economy is directly threatened by the failure to deliver basic services.
“The metro has become a high risk operating environment for businesses, who are finding it increasingly difficult to justify future investment or even remaining in the metro.
“This will leave many thousands more without jobs and any hope of finding one. Residents – the people who voted for the politicians – are already suffering through the absence of service delivery. We simply cannot continue the way we are,” said Peter.
He said all parties voted in last year are equally to blame for the chaos and collapse of service delivery.
“We call on all the representatives to act now to do what the voters asked for.”
The coalition is galvanising support across the metro through signing a pledge to support the turnaround of the metro fortunes.
“And we cannot afford to fail our constituencies. The people of city, through our coalition structures, have directed us to stop relying on diplomacy to bring about stability.
“We will now effect pragmatic and radical actions in the form of protests, calling a meeting with the state president and pursuing civil litigation”.