2022 in Review | No stability in Mandela Bay Metro since formation of coalition in 2016

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Throughout 2022, chaos reigned in the troubled Nelson Mandela Bay Council, severely affecting service delivery.
There has been no stability in the Metro since the formation of a coalition government following the 2016 Local Government Elections.

Meetings degenerating into chaos, and threats to councillors’ lives, while smaller parties continued with their flip-flopping to form a coalition government with either the African National Congress (ANC) or the Democratic Alliance (DA). This was the norm in the Nelson Mandela Metro Council this year.

Immediately following the election of the ANC’s media-shy Eugene Johnson as the Executive Mayor in November 2021, signs of power struggles between the DA and the ANC were visible.

Johnson received 60 votes while DA’s candidate Nqaba Bhanga received 59 votes. In her maiden speech, Johnson promised to root out corruption.

“I will ensure that this municipality is run by ethical leaders, managers and people. I will remove from office those who fail to do what they are pay to do, and we will implement determine resolute anti-corruption strategy under the justice and crime strategy cluster and SARS anti-corruption unit.”

It wasn’t too long before DA showed its intention to govern the Metro. A coalition agreement was signed with parties that were part of the ANC-led coalition government. Some of the parties that jumped ship, accused the ANC of not consulting with them in decision-making, allegations the ANC denied.

VIDEO | Opposition parties in Mandela Bay sign a coalition agreement

Luxolo Namette is the UDM Councillor, while Mkhuseli Jack is an Abantu Integrity Movement (AIM) councillor.

“I have worked with the DA and ACDP before one thing for sure they are transparent and they have the interest of residents of NMB at heart. Number two, ANC leaders were interested from the top, they were involved in their conferences, and they never care what was happening. Contrary to these people we are getting into coalition with from the beginning they got involved for full four months with their top leadership from building the metro,” says Mkhuseli.

In a marathon meeting that lasted until the early hours of the morning in September, Johnson was removed as mayor, and DA’s Retief Odendaal was elected.

Odendaal says forming a coalition with other political parties is important in preparation for the 2024 General Elections.

“I think many of our coalition is the likelihood that there’s the possibility of the coalition at national level at 2024 when the ANC is brought down. So all political parties need to prove to the electorate that partners have burnt their fingers with the ANC but also most political parties have realised that they can put their differences aside and work together to improve service delivery. So if they can’t do that the electorate won’t trust them in 2024.”

But the DA and its coalition partners’ happiness was short-lived. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC Zolile Williams announced that he will amend Section 12 of the Municipal Structures Act.

The move will pave the way for a collective executive system that will take powers away from the mayor and allow for a new committee to run municipal affairs.

The DA is taking the matter to court.