PHINDILE Faxi was elected as Ndlambe’s new mayor at the inaugural meeting of the new council last week, following the local government elections on August 3.
It was the second time right for Faxi, who was touted as a candidate for mayor after the previous municipal elections five years ago. He lost out to Sipho Tandani in what was at the time a controversial appointment, as protestors marched in the CBD and burned tyres in Nemato’s streets.
This time there was celebration by ANC supporters and a convivial atmosphere among all parties in the Port Alfred Civic Centre as the councillors took their oath of office and Faxi gave his inaugural address as mayor.
He thanked Tandani for his term as mayor, and for fostering “healthy debates”.
“This is usually a time for long speeches about what you’re going to do. But I’m not going to do that. Today is a day of celebration. But it’ll be over soon and then we’ve got to be hard at work,” Faxi said.
“All I want to do today is beg the ratepayers and residents for a period of 100 days. After 100 days we’ll go out in the open and say what is the state of the municipality,” he said, including the opposition in his appeal.
“We want to know what the people want. We don’t want to promise anything or fire shots in the dark.”
He said the municipality would consider economic priorities during the 100 days and initiate programmes for economic growth. He said the two main economic drivers in the area were tourism and agriculture.
An important element was the establishment of an economic advisory forum, he said, and they hoped to bring retired lawyers and economists on board to advise on economic development.
On the topic of revenue collection, Faxi said: “Not all residents are making a meaningful contribution to our kitty. We want to get councillors involved in following up with the community. The service provider must be assisted by councillors.”
He said the municipality was aiming for an unqualified audit for the first time. “One of the things to address is supply chain management,” he said.
Another area of focus was the municipal performance management system (PMS). “Prizes at the end of the year must be linked to the PMS,” he said.
In a move unopposed by the DA, veteran ANC councillor Vivian Maphaphu was re-elected as speaker, and immediately set about reminding old hands and advising the new ones, that “the municipality is run by policies, bylaws, a code of conduct and rules and orders for councillors”.
“In the past there have been troublesome councillors,” she said.
She encouraged councillors to read the code of conduct and rules and orders, and if there was anything they did not understand, to ask her to explain it.
The balance of power in the council remains at 13 ANC councillors to six DA councillors, and whereas before there was one independent, there is now an EFF councillor.
On the executive committee, the ANC has three seats and the DA one. For the election of the exco, besides nominating DA caucus leader Ray Schenk, the DA also nominated ANC councillor Monica Mateti, which puzzled the ANC, as they had already nominated their three candidates. Mateti declined, so the ANC members of exco are Faxi, Thembani Mazana and Nosicelo Xhasa.
When it came to parcelling out portfolios at exco, the DA wanted to hold onto the finance portfolio, but lost in a vote as the ANC wanted the mayor himself to head that portfolio. Mazana got infrastructure, Xhasa community protection services and Schenk corporate services.
The appointment of the municipal public accounts committee, which examines and makes recommendations on the annual audit report, was deferred until a workshop can be held on the matter.
The official proceedings were preceded by presentations from two different pension funds, one represented by Tandani’s predecessor, Vukile Balura.
Exhorting the new councillors to join his pension fund, Balura said: “The councillors who are no longer councillors probably did not join a pension fund. They are now going to join the army of unemployed and they have no income.”