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War of words erupts over Mashaba and the DA’s legacy in Johannesburg

War of words erupts over Mashaba and the DA’s legacy in Johannesburg
The DA is fightting back after allegations of maladministration in the City of Johannesburg. (Photo: Flickr / Undone | DA logo and ANC logo)

After serious allegations were made by Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo against former mayor Herman Mashaba and his Democratic Alliance-led administration, the DA has fought back, rebutting the allegations. 

“We concede that no government can be perfect, but it’s not perfection that we expect from the current ANC administration, but rather honesty,” said the Democratic Alliance (DA) Johannesburg caucus leader, Funzela Ngobeni, on 26 February 2020. 

Ngobeni, joined by other DA councillors, said that when the DA lost power after Herman Mashaba’s resignation as mayor in November 2019, they “left the City in a better stage than it has ever been”.

“Over the course of the last three years we achieved many successes,” Ngobeni said, “which brought about real transformation in the lives of millions of Johannesburg residents.”

However, the DA believes that these successes have been tainted by the recent allegations made by newly elected mayor Geoff Makhubo. 

Makhubo claimed at a briefing on 19 February that the DA-led administration brought the City to financial collapse and created an environment of maladministration that has allowed fraud and corruption to thrive.

Makhubo highlighted three “immediate threats” that he believes were a result of “populist policies and decision-making” which rendered the City dysfunctional. 

One of the threats was the issue surrounding the Emergency Management Services (EMS) Department, which he claims only had five operational fire engines to serve five million residents, despite R172-million having been paid upfront to a service provider.

“To make matters worse,” Makhubo said, “the specifications upon which this corrupt procurement was made do not meet the operational requirements of the EMS.”

The DA stated that it was shocked to find there were only five fire engines as when they stepped down, EMS had 27operational fire appliances including 12 fire engines. 

“How Mayor Makhubo was able to reverse this progress to five engines in less than three months in government and now wants to spend more money is beyond belief,”  Ngobeni said. “He needs to be held accountable and so does his MMC for Public Safety [Mally Mokoena].”

The DA believes that both Mokoena and the mayor lack an understanding of good governance, especially about the EMS and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD).

According to Makhubo, there has been “blatant illegal political interference” at JMPD that he believes was to the benefit of the office of Mashaba and the DA. 

He said residents were lied to with regard to the training of 500 new recruits at the JMPD.

“These new officers were paraded in the dying days of the Mashaba administration,” Mukhubo sai., “Amongst themselves, they agree that they were paraded and deployed without completing their training modules.”

DA Councillor Michael Sun told the media that new recruits had in fact gone through an 18-month training process and he had witnessed the shooting exams.

“On what basis did Mayor Makhubo make these assumptions?” Sun asked. “These are very dangerous and baseless allegations.”

Sun said that the “suspension” of Chief of Police David Tembe was equally baseless as there was no investigation or due process done. To the DA, the whole suspension was unethical. 

“With regards to the question of there being any truth to the City suspending Thebe, this is a fact. There is audio,” Sun said.

An audio file was leaked to Sowetan in January 2020 in which Mally Mokoena was heard instructing her head of department, William Mazibuko, to immediately place Tembe on suspension.

“Show your muscle and suspendTembe today,” Mokoena is heard saying on the audio clip, according to Sowetan

 “We really want to see what process they are talking about and why they are so desperate to remove the chief of police, because I can assure you there is someone waiting in the wings,” Sun said.

“Makhubo and his new MMC will be the downfall of Joburg’s public safety department,” Ngobeni added. 

In turn, Makhubo told the media that he would pursue legal action and was committed to bringing the services and finances of the City back to normality.

However, the DA has argued that its intention was always clear: to bring about meaningful transformation in the lives of the residents of the City. 

“At no point did the DA-led government deceive our residents,” Ngobeni said. 

“At no point did we steal our residents’ tax money. And at no point did we lie and cheat to remain in government.”

At the time of publication, the mayor’s office had not yet responded to questions sent by Daily Maverick. DM

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