South Africa: NMB Mayor Plays Blame Game in R700m Spat

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Gary van Niekerk has blamed the former mayor and DA councillor Retief Odendaal for over R700m of grant funding being withheld.

Van Niekerk made the claims in a letter, titled The Truth, which was addressed to DA national leader John Steenhuisen.

It alleges that Odendaal played a key role in the current grant funding impasse between the municipality and the national treasury.

Odendaal wrote to the National Treasury to report the appointment of MBDA’s CEO as irregular, which then led to National Treasury withholding more than R700 million in grant funding from the metro.

However, Van Niekerk alleges that Odendaal was “instrumental” in Anele Qaba’s appointment in the first place, against the advice of the smaller parties in the DA led coalition.

“As a direct result of Mr Odendaal, firstly being instrumental in the golden handshake of Mr Qaba and secondly then writing to treasury about the appointment of Mr Qaba as CEO, without bringing his concerns to council, the grant funding the metro so desperately needs was withheld.

“This in itself is highly irregular, as the national treasury never gets involved in these municipal entities,” Van Niekerk said.

He said that Odendaal had the option to bring his concerns to council before approaching the national treasury.

“I am not sure why he didn’t bring his concerns to me or the chairperson of the MBDA Representatives Committee, or even to Council, first. There are clearly a number of options open to any councillor in this regard,” he continued.

Van Niekerk added that the metro had addressed all concerns highlighted by the treasury. He said the treasury insisting on withholding the grant funding is a clear sign of political interference.

Odendaal hit back, saying Van Niekerk’s letter was a well written lie and the perfect example of “not telling the truth”.

“Most councillors in council today, both in the ruling coalition and in opposition, would much rather trust my judgement than councillor Van Niekerk’s. The letter is a classic example of why his credibility is woeful,” Odendaal responded.

Steenhuisen could not be reached for comment.


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