Civil society coalition helps to get Nelson Mandela Bay budget passed at last

Nelson Mandela Bay city hall

A recently-revived civil society coalition with a strong Church component helped to finally get Nelson Mandela Bay’s 2021/2022 adjustments budget passed on Tuesday.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Civil Society Coalition (NMBCSC) succeeded in persuading political parties to attend a special council meeting with the sole purpose of passing the budget — and after a 3-hour delay due to pre-meeting drama it took less than 10 minutes to approve the adjustments budget and note the 2022/2023 draft annual budget. 

Much time before the meeting was spent securing an agreement that AIM councillor Khusta Jack would step in as an interim speaker to pass the budget. Ongoing political wrangling and controversy have left the posts of city manager and speaker in limbo.

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Before the meeting, co-operative governance MEC Xolile Nqatha, who has been liaising with the NMBCSC, told councillors that should the chaos continue, the provincial government would dissolve the council.

At a meeting two weeks ago with ANC and DA council and provincial leaders, the NMBCSC told them their “power mongering” was preventing service delivery. Since then, the coalition has also met with smaller parties in the council, said Trevor Jennings of the Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leadership Network and a steering committee member of the coalition.

He said the political leaders they met with a fortnight ago undertook to report back in two weeks with a response to the NMBCSC’s proposals for a way ahead that emphasises reconciliation and which takes the focus off politicians and prioritises citizens.

While awaiting feedback from the political parties, he said, the coalition, which was “reignited” recently to tackle municipal dysfunctionality, had decided to focus on getting the much-delayed budget passed in order to release funding needed for vital projects and service delivery.

He said that on Thursday May 12 the NMB Church Leadership Network plans to open its monthly meeting to pastors and citizens throughout the city to discuss municipal service delivery. He said it is time for Christians to play an active role in ensuring vital services are delivered and in keeping ward councillors accountable.

The meeting agenda reads: The Church’s response to the collapsing service deliver in NM Bay
1. Water crises
2. Refuse/waste plan
3. Roads, potholes, road signage
4. Electricity: substations & robots
5. Local Ward Councillors: liaison and accountability
6. How Pastors can mobilize their church members to “save the metro”

A small group will meet physically at the Bible Society and details for linking via Zoom will be published on May 9. The meeting is from 8.30am to 10am and will be open to the public from 9am.

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