Mashaba’s first 100 days an ‘eye opener’

Johannesburg mayor says previous administration had been in denial about the level of crime in the city

Mashaba’s first 100 days an ‘eye opener’

1 December 2016

Johannesburg – After 100 days in office, Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba realised he had got more than he had bargained for.

"I have come to learn that the city is not what I thought it was during my election campaign. It is far, far worse than I had thought," Mashaba told a packed hall in Fordsburg, where he was presenting a progress report, on Thursday.

He said the previous administration had neglected the prioritising of residents, which was evident in its balance sheet.

"Never again will the residents of this city be subjected to abuse by their government," the entrepreneur vowed.

The coalition partnerships formed would ensure that there were adequate checks and balances in place, he said.

"The fact that our government is required to engage and collaborate with different parties to find solutions to our many challenges is proving to make our government stronger. This is what the voters wanted."

Vanity projects

Mashaba repeated the DA’s election campaign slogan, that Johannesburg residents had voted for the change they wanted to see in their city.

"The voice has grown from a quiet whisper of a few, to the loud shout of many in our city, after years of arrogant indifference exhibited by previous administrations."

Mashaba’s administration inherited former mayor Parks Tau’s budget for 2016/17 and an Integrated Development Plan (IDP).

He had to operate under this budget for the remaining 10 months of the financial year before he was able to introduce changes.

"We have an IDP where hundreds of millions of rands are committed to vanity projects. The previous administration was obsessed with the city’s international image."

He said R153m had been spent on "self-promotional advertising" in the last two years, and R193m on travel.

An additional R340m was spent on a new council chamber. This was money which could have been spent electrifying informal settlements, or issuing title deeds, or combating the rampant drug trade in the inner city, he said.

"What they did not tell you on those radio adverts and billboards, is that long-term neglect has produced a 10-year, R170bn funding gap on capital infrastructure."

Corruption, nepotism and fraud

Since taking office, his administration had been inundated daily with cases of corruption, nepotism and fraud.

"It has gotten to the point where we could not investigate as quickly as the cases were rolling in," Mashaba said.

Mashaba said the previous administration had been in denial about the level of crime in Johannesburg. He said that, according to official performance reports presented in meetings, the city had become safer place for residents.

"I have to ask these people if they live in the same city that I live in, because no resident would agree with such a pronouncement."

The ANC administrations had allowed the inner city to be taken over by criminals, drug dealers and slumlords.

"We have over 115 000 people illegally occupying buildings in our inner city, most of whom are living in the most appalling conditions."

Big plans

He said he would work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure that this was nipped in the bud.

Mashaba intended making sure that budgeting for service delivery was no longer an afterthought once luxuries, nice-to-haves, and non-essentials had been accounted for.

"We have big plans to fundamentally review our service delivery model in Joburg."

He intended making it easier for investors to do business, which would transform it into a modern, post-apartheid, South African city.

"With only R10bn set aside annually for capital expenditure, and a R170bn funding gap for capital infrastructure over the next 10 years, we need to work with the private sector.

"The private sector can easily pour R20bn each year into our inner city and turn it into a construction site within a matter of months."

The city needed to create quality, low-cost housing for its people and rental spaces for small businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish, he said.

This article first appeared on News24, see here