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Mayor Bobani sets visionary tone with comprehensive budget speech

BUDGET SPEECH BY EXECUTIVE MAYOR MONGAMELI BOBANI ON THURSDAY, 6 JUNE 2019 AT THE WOOLBOARD EXCHANGE IN MILITARY ROAD.

Speaker of Council,
Deputy Executive Mayor,
Chief Whip,
Members of the Mayoral Committee,
Councillors,
Acting City Manager,
Acting Chief Financial Officer,
Municipal Officials,
Members of the media,
Lastly our greatest stakeholder – the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay.

Good afternoon. Molweni. Goeiemiddag. Dumelang.

I am happy to address you on this historic occasion. An occasion when we see a better tomorrow through building a dynamic and an engaged municipal institution in this digital era known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It is historic for two reasons. One. It is the first budget presented to council under my watch as Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. I happily do so, ably supported by the Deputy Executive Mayor, Mayoral Committee, political formations and an efficient team of municipal officials.

Two. With this budget, we are addressing a number of serious challenges, made worse by leadership inadequacies after the August 2016 elections. Inadequacies that led to more audit queries in the 2016-17 and the 2017-18 financial years, than what we had in years prior to that election.

It is undoubtedly the effects of short-sighted austerity politics when greater vision, faster implementation of major catalytic projects, efficiency and greater fiscal responsibility was required. Qualified audits increased from one annually to four under the leadership of the previous coalition government. The areas of concern in the Auditor General’s findings were:
1. Irregular expenditure, 
2. Exchange Revenue, 
3. Intangible Assets and
4. Property, Plant and Equipment.

I have been assured by the administration that detailed Audit Action plans are now in place to address these audit queries. The political leadership collective will as a matter of course do our political oversight, monitor the needed implementation and provide support where necessary.

Speaker, the stark reality of persistent audit queries, compelled us to carefully balance a budget aimed at addressing the way we are doing business in this city.

We see a municipality geared towards connecting with its residents without favour or prejudice. We see a municipality dealing with long outstanding employee issues such as the uncertainty created by the lack of clarity regarding the implementation of the TASK job evaluation.

We see an institution geared towards dealing with service delivery complaints with greater commitment and speed. An institution that makes it easier for residents to submit their complaints and receive qualitative feedback from us when they do so. We see a municipality with a motivated work force, committed to making a difference on a daily basis.

The Office of the Chief Operating Officer is tasked with the responsibility to gather data and statistics regarding municipal complaints and how it is resolved. This exercise will enable us to continuously improve on current systems and test our efficiency. We see a city where we all work better together for the common good.

It is after all, our collective duty to address inequality, increase our rates base due to the municipality’s unsustainable dependence on grant funding and to create employment. In this vein, the majority of funded projects are located in – or aimed at supporting development – in the poorest areas of the City. Of the R1.8 billion apportioned in the Capital Budget, R835 million is allocated to poorer wards. This represents 91% out of a total of R922 million allocated for spending in all our wards.

We are doing so, mindful of the critical importance of uplifting our residents, especially the youth, women and other special groups, to become active participants and contributors to our local economy as part of a growing middle class.

Chief Whip, when I say we see a visionary municipality, it is based on the premise that our infrastructure projects are the catalysts that spur on greater private investment and developments in our city that will contribute to job creation, increased opportunities and essential growth.

We see a number of critical projects to bolster growth and development. These are:
1. Developments at Bayworld/Happy Valley and the Boet Erasmus Stadium;
2. N2 Baywest Development;
3. Important linkage roads that connect the city and improve accessibility. These include, the Bloemendal / Arterial (connecting Njoli / New Brighton to Chatty Jachtvlakte), the Western arterial road (connecting the Baywest N2 area to Uitenhage and Chatty / Jachtvlakte), Standford road extension (connecting Uitenhage CBD to Bethelsdorp), and the massive R1,4 Billion PRASA Motherwell Rail Corridor connecting the CBD by rail to Motherwell and ultimately the Coega Special Economic Zone;
4. Baakens Valley Development; 
5. Urban development and township upgrading projects at Njoli, Red Location, Motherwell, Cleary Park, Uitenhage Central, Zanemvula and Jachtvlakte; 
6. Further developments in the Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth Central Business Districts, North End, Korsten/Schauderville area, Helenvale, Govan Mbeki and Kleinskool amongst others.

In addition, we received Drought Relief funding of R233 million, R200 million from the Urban Settlements Development Grant and R7.1 million from the Emergency Human Settlements Grant.

MMC Noluthando Pink, amongst our long list of catalytic projects, there are a number of critical projects that need to find budget allocations.

Amongst others, they are:
Florida Heights Mixed Housing Development,
Desalination Plant,
Waterfront Development
Smart City digital strategy

Two strategic events will take place before the end of the year. An Investment Conference will be held to entice and encourage high-level private sector participation in growth opportunities. It will also be a chance for all stakeholders to share ideas and strategize to build Colchester, Despatch, Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage for the common good.

We see a city where investors can do business without unnecessary delays due to bureaucratic processes and uncalled-for red tape. Recent collaboration with National Treasury regarding more streamlined business processes to unlock investment opportunities led to necessary changes. We decided to change our approach to deal with catalytic projects and the implementation of a one-stop-shop.

The Office of the Executive Mayor will henceforth oversee the operations of a one-stop-shop for business and the streamlined implementation of catalytic projects. This is in line with national standards and recommendations from National Treasury to ensure no investment opportunities are lost due to preventable frustration and misunderstandings.

The strategic focus and positioning of catalytic projects in the Office of the Executive Mayor came through collaboration with National Treasury as part of its City Support Programme. In addition the Special Programmes Unit will also be moved to the Mayor’s Office to ensure greater urgency during the implementation of poverty alleviation programmes and a special focus on township development. The War-on-Hunger under the Special Programmes Unit will be resurrected as we are fully aware that many of our residents are going to bed without anything to eat.

Secondly, a Safety and Security Summit is also planned to comprehensively look at crime prevention, law enforcement and other aspects of criminality.

A prosperous city cannot continue to flourish if crime is not addressed efficiently. To this end, twenty-nine million rand (R29 million) is allocated to acquire specialised vehicles, plant and equipment in the fight against crime. MMC Litho Suka, parents, children and visitors must be able to enjoy parks and open spaces without fear of becoming victims of senseless crime. In addition to the summit, I am encouraged that a Strategy and Action Plan is being developed as part of a Safe City Concept aimed at creating a key strategic framework for the municipality and our broader stakeholders. Critical to this is the implementation of a broad range of crime prevention and community safety initiatives to ensure that our neighbourhoods are welcoming, inclusive and safer
Other major Safety and Security initiatives include:
An anti-gangsterism stabilisation strategy
An increased focus on traffic policing
An increased focus on by-law enforcement
A review of the Disaster Plan for the whole of Nelson Mandela Bay,
Establishment of a Search and Rescue Volunteer Corps
Enter into a mutual assistance agreement with Sarah Baartman District Municipality. (Disaster Management), and;
Revival of the use of Motor cycles for patrols.

Speaker, we see a municipality where safety and environmental health remain among our priorities as an institution. Efficient Public Health strategies not only ensure cleaner townships and suburbs, it also prevents the outbreak of rodent infestations and other pests.

A total of R49,5 million is allocated this financial year to upgrade three cemeteries, develop at least nine public open spaces and develop more waste disposal facilities amongst others. We received a heartwrenching letter from residents complaining that cemeteries are exclusively used by the rich and the poor are not allowed to bury their loved ones there. This has to stop. We cannot have the return of Apartheid meted out against our departed.

We see a city where more waste co-operatives are established through the Expanded Public Works Programme to improve both environmental health and create much-needed jobs. Although unspent funds have been carried over for these co-operatives, I am concerned that the funds were not spent the first time around.

Every single opportunity to create jobs and improve the conditions of our residents must be used when it is available to us. Under-expenditure must not even be part of our thoughts or vocabulary.

In order to create economic prospects for SMMEs, work opportunities to the value of R100 million will be provided over a three year period from 1 July this year to 30 June 2022.

We see our municipality set a trend to grasp every opportunity at our disposal to improve economic conditions. All unspent funding by the institution for the previous financial year will be added to the 2019-20 Capital and Operating Budgets to specifically address the needs and concerns of the poor and unemployed. We will convene a Council Meeting to approve an Adjustment Budget towards the end of September to achieve this.

Deputy Executive Mayor, we see a city where every cent is used for its rightful purpose and everything possible is done to bring down the cost of running the municipality. The excessive outsourcing of work from our Legal Services Sub-Directorate deserves urgent attention in order to reduce the drain of legal fees on our municipal finances. I am assured that the Office of the Chief Operating Officer will give this critical matter the urgent attention it deserves.

Councillors, I am sure you all noticed the negative sentiment and publicity we received regarding the municipal pound in Uitenhage, operated on our behalf by a non-governmental organisation. R1 million is set aside to improve current infrastructure.

The proposed establishment of a second facility in Markman Township is in progress, but has to be more than just a facility where animals are housed, in order to cater for our needs.

The new facility will also have space for other impounded goods such as vehicles confiscated by the Safety and Security Directorate.

We recently invested R27,5 million in five Ambient Air Monitoring stations to monitor air quality and ultimately ensure a sustained clean environment.

Two-hundred million rands (R200m) are allocated for Human Settlements as we see a city that restores the dignity of the landless by providing quality houses to all qualifying residents. This money will go towards the servicing of 2 000 housing sites and land acquisition.

MMC Andile Mfunda, I am aware that nine thousand four hundred and thirty-one (9431) sites are ready for top structure development. This bodes well for our efforts to work towards the eradication of the housing backlog that currently stands at seventy-two thousand, four-hundred and eleven (72 411) units. We see a future where residents can be confident that their government will deliver on their housing needs with the necessary urgency.

MMC Andile Lungisa, although we have a number of important interventions as part of our electrification programmes this financial year, renewable energy must be looked at as part of our energy mix going forward.

We see a city where sustainability and environmental considerations are taken during the implementation of every project.

In the new financial year R223 million is set aside for the upgrading and construction of substations, electrification of houses and other important deliverables. To this end, R27 million will be used to electrify 1 297 RDP houses and R30 million to electrify 2 500 informal dwellings. A total of R20 million is set aside for 650 public lighting installations and R37,6 million for the refurbishment and reinforcement of existing infrastructure to improve the reliability of the current network.

Councillors, we remain concerned regarding the effect tampering with electricity installations has on our revenue collection. To address this, we set R23,9 million aside for the installation of smart metering infrastructure and to curb losses.

We see a city where the municipality serve as a catalyst to unlock the creative economy to enable local artists to make a decent living and to create opportunities for budding sport stars to participate in sporting codes that could potentially empower them.

MMC Lehlohonolo Mfana, R44 million is set aside for Sport and Recreation for the construction of multi-purpose centres in wards 17, 21, 34 and 42. Upgrades to our main library and some sporting facilities will also be carried out. Our iconic and award-winning Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium receives R5 million. We see a city where our facilities are used optimally and a culture of ownership exists amongst the communities where these facilities are located.

Speaker, R482 million is allocated for the Infrastructure and Engineering Directorate. Roads, Stormwater and Transportation must ensure that the tarring of fourteen kilometres of gravel roads, resurfacing of fifteen kilometres of existing roads and the construction of sidewalks are implemented.

The rollout of the Integrated Public Transport System infrastructure and network is covered with a portion of this allocation. Some of this money will also be used to construct the bulk storm-water network in Colchester and the rest of the Metro as well as the rehabilitation of existing bridge and roads infrastructure. MMC Rosie Daaminds, we see a city where reliable public transportation is available like clockwork to residents in need of mobility.

Our Water Services division receives R317 million for the upgrade of water treatment facilities, the rehabilitation of water reservoirs and the provision of bulk water service infrastructure to support housing delivery and economic development.

Acting City Manager, to take our city forward, it requires sacrifice from all of us. Unfortunately, increases must be effected to comply with national requirements and to enable us to implement our vision.

To this end, the proposed tariff increases are as follows:
- Property Rates Tax: 7.7%
- Water: 7.5%
- Sanitation: 7.5%
- Refuse: 7.5%; and,
- Electricity: 13.04% (On average pending NERSA approval).

Speaker, we see a city with a unified digital strategy, led by the City Manager, the municipal administration, my office and all members of the mayoral committee to realise a modern city focused towards harvesting all opportunities presented through the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Councillors as I table this R12,6 billion Capital and Operating Budgets in this chamber, I would like to use this opportunity to thank all Mayoral Committee Members, Ward Councillors and Officials who played a role in making today possible.

Thank you for your efforts and remember that we see a municipality where the roles and contributions are acknowledged and appreciated.

I thank you.

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