THE appointment of Danny Jordaan as the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay is welcome news to the beleaguered metro and its citizens. People have been yearning to see appointments of this calibre for some time.
Jordaan’s success or failure will reside with the level of latitude bestowed upon him, by the party bosses, to drag the metro out of its administrative quagmire. The metro needs to be steered away from its current path to nowhere.
This metro was once regarded as the best run council in the post-apartheid era. Jordaan is expected to restore that glorious image.
It has become a cesspool of the most notorious, greedy and selfish criminal “comrades”.
His second objective, we are told, is to cleanse the soiled and once morally unassailable ANC image, taking it back to its erstwhile high ethical position and readying it for next year’s elections. The urgency of the situation is exacerbated by the entry of the DA’s Athol Trollip, who has vowed to clean up the mess in the metro.
Trollip promises a simple, but highly profound message to the people of the metro: fairness, freedom and opportunity. For the metro, such a message is like an oasis in the desert, given how in the last five years people have been shunted to the status of pariahs in their own city.
Opportunities in the metro have become the preserve of the varying dominant factions in the ANC while ordinary people are reduced to destitute spectators whose only usefulness is during voting seasons. The question asked by the people of the metro, who have watched how the marauding, scavenging politicians have plundered the resources of the metro for their own good, and for their families’ and friends’ benefit is: will Jordaan be able to turn this tide?
Our metro’s criminal networks operating inside and outside of the municipality are deeply entrenched, hence people want to see what kind of tools Jordaan will be equipped with. When ANC stalwart Oom Ben Fihla was drafted in to turn the tide, he was never given administrative assistance to deal with the rot in the metro.
The only major achievement that can be attributed to Fihla was to hide the political wranglings of the competing factions. During his time, the political crooks running the metro managed to dribble past Fihla, without him detecting anything untoward.
Things came to a boil only when a certain councillor went to an Asian country and allegedly paraded as the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. Fihla acted swiftly and decisively.
When Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela was appointed municipal manager, Fihla was ecstatic. He even supported the suspension of some of the people seen as the ring leaders of the current rot in the metro administration.
They then managed to put a wedge between Fihla and Msengana-Ndlela. Hence it is reported in court papers that Fihla, instead of joining hands with the most competent corruptionbuster, sided with her persecutors and incompetent prosecutors.
The end result is a shamefully defeated Fihla, with his administrative legacy in tatters and him booted out of office in the most unceremonious manner. He will be remembered as a negative case study on how to manage badly, after the council was made to pay R3.1-million to Msengana-Ndlela. So much for a struggle icon. In the corridors of power the rogue and the self-serving members of the mayoral committee mocked Fihla as a helpless imbecile, but interestingly, none of them in practice could prove to be better than him. If Fihla was truly an imbecile in office the entire contingent of mayoral committee members do not deserve retention.
Jordaan stands a far better chance of doing a good job. He is alert and young, he is not a political ideologue, he is a pragmatic man.
He is known as a doer, not a talker. His record is public knowledge.
He knows the metro and its people. He does not care about useless polemical debates.
He does the job at hand. Unlike many struggle people, who are given complicated managerial tasks though they have never managed even a school crèche or spaza shop, Jordaan comes with impeccable administrative credentials.
Those of us who know him from his teaching days know that he conducted himself at all times in a manner befitting his calling. In all his previous mandates he delivered.
He is one man with a faultless pedigree in a criminally infested environment.
The first hurdle for Jordaan will be to get the elusive support from Calata House in Bhisho. The support of the Bhisho political honchos is critical, because they have been presiding over the downward spiral of the ANC and the municipalities in this province.
They have been appointing officials and managers, and even deciding on people who must sit on the most mundane committees. Will Luthuli House unite behind Jordaan once he confronts pockets of resistance from the PEC, that is so well embedded within the leadership that has ran the metro as its fiefdom?
Touching anyone in the mayoral committee without concomitant reward will prove to be the hottest potato for Jordaan. Pushing the political spoilers away will be the easy part.
However dealing with the incompetent officials and managers will be the most testing task for Jordaan. Should he be able to sustain the support of a united NEC and be allowed to select a team he feels comfortable with to do the job at hand, his chances of success will be enhanced.
If this kind of assistance is not forthcoming, and the incompetent and parasitic bureaucrats are allowed to hold on to their old ways, then do not be surprised if the metro falls into the hands of Trollip, who has a ready blueprint to extricate the metro from the political morass. Those of us who want to be governed properly will be watching with keen interest as these two deserving bulls fight to do the best for us.