Mabuyane bemoans Mthatha ‘mess’
Mayor and MEC Mabuyane sing from different hymn sheets about town
Tough-talking Eastern Cape finance MEC Oscar Mabuyane has blasted city bosses for allowing Mthatha to degenerate into chaos.
Addressing an Eastern Cape Chamber of Business gala dinner at the Savoy Hotel in Mthatha on Thursday night, a visibly unimpressed Mabuyane bemoaned the fact that a city once regarded as the economic hub of the eastern side of the province had been allowed to descend into disorder.
Among those in attendance were the mayors of OR Tambo district and King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipalities, Nomakhosazana Meth and Dumani Zozo.
“This [chaos] is making us a laughing stock,” said Mabuyane.
“People of Mthatha, we cannot allow our city to degenerate into this state.”
Mabuyane was speaking at a time when the city’s roads are laden with potholes. Recently municipal workers embarked on strike action demanding to know the criteria used for what workers claimed was an irrational and unequal payout of salaries and wages.
The payout, based on a stalled task grade salary system, was meant to catch up with backpay which went as far back as 2009. Millions were spent on the exercise.
In stark contrast, prior to Mabuyane’s address, Zozo had taken to the podium to welcome guests and had declared KSD ready for investments from outside.
The mayor said his municipality, the third biggest in the province after the Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City metros, had managed to resolve most of the land claims that had beset the city in recent years.
“KSD is one place to invest in. We are inviting businesses to come into KSD and present investment plans,” he enthused.
But the MEC and provincial ANC boss, said that while Mthatha catered for a three million populace from the eastern side of the Eastern Cape, the town was fast-becoming a crime capital of the country with some of the highest crime statistics.
“How will investors come here? It’s coming first in rapes, first in murder.”
The Daily Dispatch reported recently that Meth and Zozo had officially launched the #Clean My Mthatha campaign which is aimed at beautifying the city and restoring it to its former glory.
The initiative is a joint collaboration between the two-Mthatha-based municipalities. During the launch, Meth said 46 district municipal employees and two trucks had joined the campaign to clean up Mthatha.
Mabuyane also took a swipe at dodgy business deals in Bhisho.
He told the business and political guests that he had discovered a trend in Bhisho where some service providers doing business with the state had to “cough up” what was called a “release fee” to be able to get paid for their work.
Earlier, in his speech, Eastern Cape Business Chamber president Vuyisile Ntlabati said small businesses were being hampered by late payments from government.
Ntlabati said there were up to 20 such businesses in OR Tambo district alone which had not been paid for five months’ worth of work. But the MEC assured the chamber that from now on, whoever was caught demanding “release fee” kickbacks would be fired.
“In Bhisho we need to fire someone who has not paid service providers. When you fail to pay SMMEs within 30 days, you are killing that business,” he said. .
He also lamented the migration of people to other provinces saying according to their projections, at least R5.9bn would be lost through people leaving the province in future.
He said the province was facing huge infrastructural backlogs due to the spatial planning of the apartheid government and needed R60bn to fix its road network...