Reaction to State of City address

Buffalo City Metro executive mayor Xola Pakati presented the State of the City address on August 4, highlighting various programmes aimed at developing the city.

However, stakeholders and public servants say the success of these development plans will depend on the municipality’s willingness to encourage space for skilled private sector professionals to play an advisory and participatory role in local development.

Former councillor Robbie Muzzell says there are opportunities for investment in the city, however, the plans of former councillors and mayors over the years lacked the commitment and expertise needed to drive them.

“A lot of the investment effort is involved in the automotive industry and that has its own momentum that Mercedes Benz runs efficiently,” he says.

“I think throughout the whole speech the mayor missed out on the biggest sector for investment in East London, which is tourism.”

Muzzell says the Esplanade and coastline are sorely neglected as key tourism attractions, given the anomaly of the open ground at the beachfront. “Tourism is our biggest single opportunity, we don’t need to worry about automotive investments because Mercedes Benz will drive that.

“The only thing the mayor and the council can do is make sure the bureaucracy is taken away and that extensive red tape doesn’t get in the way and stop any type of investment.”

The mayor referred to the upgrades to be done at the East London port as a result of Transnet National Ports Authority’s R4.3bn investment, but Muzzell says that throughout the 19 years he served as a councillor, upgrading the port infrastructure was paid a great deal of lip service with little action.

“The ports in Durban and Cape Town are in absolute shambles and I don’t know that they [sic] have made the best of Coega, so it’s a huge opportunity for us to get the upgrades done and to extend the size of the port and get more transport through East London.”

Muzzell also says the municipality must improve its rates and taxes collection rate given the drop since his term in office from 95% to 75%.

The mayor also acknowledged the role played by the Border Kei Chamber of Business’s (BKCOB) waste buy-back centres and the important role waste pickers play in keeping the city clean.

The municipality intends to initiate a registration programme to induct waste pickers formally into the city’s waste management system.

Nyara Youth Development founder, Robyn Mfanyane, who runs youth skills and job creation programmes in Mooiplaas, says while government is focusing on youth empowerment programmes, small NGOs such as his seldom benefit.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

CAPTCHA ImageChange Image