STATE OF JOHANNESBURG

Mashaba’s city: Infrastructure backlogs and focus on inner city

By Nkateko Mabasa 3 May 2018

Johannesburg executive mayor Herman Mashaba (photo by Greg Nicolson)

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba delivered his second State of the City Address since taking office with much emphasis on the importance of the multiparty coalition government, lambasting the previous administration for a backlog of underfunded projects and finally running through the successes so far with numbers that the opposition claimed just don’t add up.

The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg delivered his annual speech to a council that cheered, heckled and interrupted him. After a long reading of “inherited service delivery backlogs”, Mashaba went on to mention a “since we have been in office” list of accomplishments, and a big nod at the coalition partners.

When the Democratic Alliance won control of the metro in August 2016, with a coalition with IFP, ACDP, Al Jama-ah, FFP, UDM and COPE, it resolved to change the nature of governance in the city. Almost two years in, the jury is still out on how much has been done to achieve this.

Given the state of the City we have inherited, and the financial constraints arising from this” said mayor Herman Mashaba, “it requires that we begin to take the bold decisions needed to achieve change”.

And the state of the metro inherited according to the Mayor is a backlog of service delivery and maladministration of the City finances.

The road network in the city has a shocking R11.8-billion backlog arising from the 100,000 potholes that cover the roads. This has resulted in 3,900 kilometres of the roads being classified as being in poor or very poor condition in 2017.

Johannesburg has about 900 bridges that commuters use daily and at least 78% of them are also classified as being in poor or very poor condition. And this will require R6.5-billion to address.

On the list of matters arising from the previous administration is 27% of electricity transformers operating past their lifespan, a water network that suffers 45,000 leaks per year, a housing waiting list of 152,000 people and a R17-billion debt, with R5-billion due to be paid in 2018.

Group Forensic and Investigation Services, says Mashaba, has since uncovered R18-billion in fraud and corruption said to have occurred under the previous ANC administration.

It was perhaps this particular inheritance which was the most challenging of all, limiting our ability to address the service delivery backlog which confronted us,” said Mashaba.

But Mashaba is hopeful.

So far, according to Mashaba, the City has been able to repair 181,000 potholes across the city and resurfaced 520 kilometres of the roads. Gravel roads have been tarred in Slovoville, Diepsloot Protea South, Kaalfontein, and Mayibuye.

Furthermore, the City has “overseen the complete refurbishment of 39 electricity sub-stations” and conducted repairs to 37 transformers.

As part of the inner city regeneration project, the mayor has released 12 properties for bidding to be developed by private investors and plans to table 71 buildings to be bought by the City at the next council meeting.

We already have 12 building up for bid,” said Leah Knot, MMC for Economic Development, “and the successful bidder will be announced by end of May.”

With a 300,000-unit shortage, the mayor believes that inner city rejuvenation must be inclusionary, considering low-income households that earn R7,000 or less.

Another victory by the DA is the EFF-sponsored motion to in-source 4,000 security personnel by the City. The MMC for Community Development, Nonhlanhla Sifumba, together with the mayor, plans to have absorbed all security guards into the City’s payroll by 1 June 2018.

This will provide them with decent pay from R2,200 per month to R6,500 per month plus the employee benefits denied them before.

Throughout his speech, Mashaba took time to mention the contribution of the coalition partners and the role they played in the accomplishments achieved, also making sure to acknowledge its non-coalition partner, the EFF.

All the victories they are claiming are EFF-sponsored motions,” said Musa Novela, councillor and EFF Joburg regional chairperson.

We came up with finalising of squatter camps and in-sourcing. It goes to show how effective we are as an opposition. The DA and its coalition have no idea about addressing the developmental challenges of our people.”

However, the ANC believes these victories are “bloated” and a ploy to keep the peace between the coalition.

Employee costs are very high,” said Geoffrey Makhubo, ANC councillor, on the topic of insourcing.

The strategy of a narrow state administration was well thought of. This is a ploy to please the EFF because they are keeping him in power. His speech was a poor analysis of the City.”

According to the ANC, Mashaba has not yet produced any evidence of the R18-billion that he claims Group Forensic and Investigation Services has uncovered from fraud and corruption. Makhubo believes Mashaba is simply enjoying the fruits of the work that the previous administration had started way before he came into office.

He arrives, the food is there and he celebrates. He did not prepare the food. There is no single project that he started. He simply inherited it,” said Makhubo. DM

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