Honourable speaker allow me to start by expressing our shock and sadness at last Sunday’s tragic event which resulted in the drowning of six players of the Motherwell Rugby Club at the Bluewater Bay Beach. Indeed the entire community of Nelson Mandela Bay is grieving. On behalf of Council and all residents of the city we once again extend our sincere sympathies and condolences to all affected families and the Motherwell Rugby Club. We would also like to thank all those who responded swiftly to the distress call to limit the loss of life. Speaker, with your indulgence, can I ask that we all rise and observe a moment of silence in honour of the departed.
Fellow Councillors, the month of March is celebrated the world over as Women’s Month. With the passage of time the celebrations have assumed an advocacy –oriented character aimed at not only promoting respect, appreciation and love towards women but also the celebration of women's economic, political and social achievements. As the Nelson Mandela Bay we fully subscribe to this paradigm shift as we believe that the emancipation of women is inextricably linked to developmental agenda of the ANC-led government.
Honourable Speaker, in our country, the month of March has historical significance, owing to our dark and tragic past that saw hundreds of people perish at the hands of the apartheid state. Events such as the Sharpeville Massacre and the Langa Massacre quickly spring to mind. However, as a sign of how far we have come and our insatiable desire to build cohesiveness and unity, this month is now used to advocate for the promotion of basic human rights for all citizens. On the 21st of March we celebrated Human Rights day, as the month draws to a close, I ask that we re-commit and dedicate ourselves to protecting the dignity of all our citizens.
Honourable Speaker, a number of exciting developments in the economic front also took place during this month, these included:
The visit by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to engage with communities of Colchester, Wells Estate and Motherwell on future growth opportunities presented by the Port of Ngqura
The launch of the Eastern Cape Automotive Cluster which is aimed at supporting the Auto Sector in the Province and improving its competitiveness
These, I believe, are major developments that have the potential to strengthen our focus on economic development, job creation and skills development thus allowing us to wage an effective and sustained attack on poverty, joblessness and inequality.
Fellow Councillors, during the same time the Municipality was also hard at work engaging communities through a series of public meetings to present its IDP, Budget and Annual Report to the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay. These meetings were held in different areas and gave all communities the opportunity to engage with the Municipality on its performance during the 2010/11 financial year, and provide comment/input towards the 2012/13 IDP and Budget. This process was well-received by our communities. We would like to thank all our residents for coming out in their numbers to participate in this key planning and decision making process of the Municipality. A Special word of appreciation also goes out to all Councillors and officials who contributed to the success of this process. I believe that this exercise has only served to deepen participatory democracy in our city. So as we consider the draft IDP and Budget we must act responsibly and be mindful of the needs of our people as expressed in the afore-mentioned engagements.
Honourable Speaker, the Municipality realizes that for it to meet its developmental objectives and deliver the much needed services to the citizenry, it needs a stable and accountable administration that is focused on service delivery. Debacles such as the Vodacom/MTN saga only serve to illuminate the case in point. We need to strengthen our systems and process to prevent such occurrences in the future. Be that as it may, I do believe that over the past few months great strides have been made in re-focusing and re-engineering our administration to enable it to pursue Council’s developmental agenda. The Section 154 Support with its various work streams ably assisted by internal staff has had the desired effect on the institution, whilst we acknowledge that gaps still exists, we also need to recognize improvements being made.
I fully concede, however, that the absence of a permanent Municipal Manager continues to hold us back and is therefore a cause for concern. I wish to re-iterate my earlier commitment made to this house that we are committed to appointing of a permanent Municipal Manager by end of April 2012.
In closing, Fellow Councillors, a lot of work lies before us as we seek to effect positive change in the lives of our people, let us not abdicate our responsibility rather let us become the agents of the change we wish to see.