Tangible outcomes within 100 days of MBDA board
The Mandela Bay Development Agency marks 20 years in existence later this year, and in all that time, the entity has amassed great admiration from across the spectrum of society, but it has also attracted harsh commentary for several reasons.
It is obvious that due to the agency being a municipal entity, whatever happens there inadvertently has impact on the agency. The recent past has seen the entity wobble due to the ever-changing operating political environment. Despite the challenges, for the year that ended in June 2022, the Auditor General of South Africa awarded the MBDA a clean bill of health in as far as its governance and financial controls, a rare sight in the local government environment. This clean audit outcome is commendable considering the challenges we faced to get there.
So, when the current Board was appointed by Council in December 2022, it was in effect a continuation of five members from the previous dispensation of eight. It is commendable that Council saw fit to maintain stability by ensuring continuity and preservation of institutional memory. Municipal entity reporting cycles start in July of every year as per the Municipal Finance Management Act, and therefore this Board assumed responsibilities towards mid-term. Tasked with the mandate to stabilise the organisation, this Board had little time to make eight key strategic interventions.
The first intervention relates to stability, where the appointment of a caretaker Chief Executive Officer was paramount. Guided by the need to stabilise the institution, the Board resolved to extend the tenure of Acting CEO, and full time Stadium Manager, to end with the conclusion of the current recruitment process for a new CEO.
Secondly, the Board needed to consider and approve the 2022-2023 annual report. The tabling of the Annual Report of an entity is a statutory demand with specific time limits, and the Board is satisfied that this was achieved without delay. As matters stand now, the Auditor General of South Africa is moving into our offices for the purpose of auditing MBDA for the period 2022-2023, a process that should be finalised as per regulations.
The performance of the MBDA was the third area of concern, and the Board highlighted this issue at the first engagement with management. It is pleasing to know that the performance forecast for 2022-2023 is promising and should far exceed the previous year. The Board is working closely with management to unblock processes to improve spending. Unfortunately, some issues beyond the entity’s control have impacted negatively on this aspect, but the team, through a strengthening risk management framework, is beginning to claw back lost ground.
Re-establishing productive relations with the shareholder was the next agenda item for the Board, and this included multiple engagements with the Executive Mayor, Cllr Retief Odendaal, and his Mayoral Committee members. Oversight visits were conducted in January and February and issues unblocked and resolved with speed. One of the highlights of these oversight visits was at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The MBDA manages the iconic stadium as an agent of the NMBM.
In March, the Board deployed member Vuyani Dyantyi to lead a community public engagement alongside Ward Cllrs of New Brighton at Nangoza Jebe Hall. The MBDA takes its role as a champion of service delivery seriously and by leveraging the institution’s project management capabilities, more can be achieved. The entity is currently spearheading the development of two multipurpose centres, one in Bethelsdorp/Kleinskool, and the other in ward 17, New Brighton.
Also in March, as Chairperson, I attended the first multi-agency collaboration forum organised by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC). This forum is important for forging collaboration and partnerships between provincial entities. When entities of the Eastern Cape start working constructively without duplication, more impact will be achieved under the leadership of Hon Premier Oscar Mabuyane. The session was fruitful and has established pathways for the MBDA to pursue alternative revenue streams and investments.
Regarding the long term, the Board and management are in the final phases of developing a new five-year plan for 2023/4 – 2028/9, hatched in partnership with the parent municipality. A Board strategic planning workshop was held in March at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, with the metro represented by MMC Luxolo Namete and senior officials. The new strategy is about reconnecting with the mandate, aggressively pursuing new revenue streams and tackling mega projects such as the long awaited Bayworld revamp, among others, to build the economy of the Bay.
Finally, the task to recruit and appoint a full-time Chief Executive Officer is now top priority for the Board as the appointing authority. We trust that the process will conclude before the end of the fiscal year to give the appointee ample time to settle the ship. None of these initiatives would have been possible without the close working relationship between the Board and the shareholder, and we know that more will be achieved through working together for the benefit of Nelson Mandela Bay.