South Africa


Joburg to get another no-name brand mayor as Thapelo Amad walks the plank

Joburg to get another no-name brand mayor as Thapelo Amad walks the plank
Johannesburg skyline.(Photo: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius) | Thapelo Amad. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle) | The Nelson Mandela Bridge. (Photo: Gallo Images / Dino Lloyd)

Major African city set for fifth mayoral chains change in under five years.

Johannesburg, still South Africa’s economic heartbeat, is set to get another no-name brand mayor as Thapelo Amad walks the gangplank. 

Amad, with only 87 days in office on April 24, has shown himself to be a woeful executive mayor of the city of 6 million people, and was facing a motion of no confidence on Tuesday. 

This means that the council executive has been dissolved and the sitting will not go ahead as planned.

Joburg will get its fifth new mayor since the July 2021 local government election and its ninth since 2016.

The Daily Maverick has canvassed the significant parties in the city’s multiparty government. The ANC supports a position which replaces Amad with Kabelo Gwamande, one of the three Al Jama-ah councillors in the city. The Johannesburg speaker, Colleen Makhubele, of Cope, also covets the position. She is close enough to the ANC regional leader Dada Morero to get the nod.  

The ANC and the EFF are using Gauteng’s three major cities (Johannesburg, Pretoria – the Tshwane council – and Ekurhuleni) as battlefields for a political alliance that will kick in after the national and provincial elections of 2024. The governing ANC is likely to lose the urban province of Gauteng, which is always more politically choosy than the rural heartlands of the party. It is shoring up support by giving in to the upstart EFF’s whims in the three cities. The EFF is a kingmaker party which can win up to 13% of the national vote in 2024, its polling by Ipsos has shown. 

Amad, who promised a big fix for the beleaguered Joburg in 100 days, must catch up to his schedule. In interview after interview, he has shown himself as a woeful incumbent. In the most recent interview with the SABC’s Sakinda Kamwendo, Amad also revealed he had been showboating with loan sharks with whom he had been negotiating a way out of the city’s multibillion-rand deficit.  

Johannesburg has an annual budget of R77.3-billion, but the lion’s share is spent on staff salaries. With an exodus to solar power, the city is struggling as its ability to extract energy charges from residents and businesses is being depleted. Almost one-third of the budget comes from the network and other charges that City Power, the municipal electricity utility, bills.  

Amad has been such an inept mayor for what is still a leading African city that the Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie has put up his hand to wear the gold chains. 

Read in Daily Maverick: All hail the imaginative Johannesburg Mayor Thapelo Amad!


The DA, with the second-highest number of seats in the council, seemed willing to give him the role, but only if the PA boss agreed not to enter into coalition agreements with the ANC anywhere in the country. 

McKenzie won’t agree as the PA is signing up to different coalition pacts wherever it is kingmaker and is on a roll. 

Insiders in the Johannesburg council have told the Daily Maverick that McKenzie no longer wants the job and will focus on the 2024 election effort for his party, which is blazing a trail in the working-class and primarily coloured communities. His choice for Johannesburg mayor is Margaret Arnolds, another no-name brand mayoral candidate from a small party.  

Johannesburg is battling. At any point, there are more than 43,000 potholes on the 15,000-kilometre plus road network. In addition to Eskom load shedding, power cuts are regularly counted at more than 400 monthly. Water shedding is a trend in the city’s southwest (including Soweto); water cuts regularly afflict the East Rand and even the prosperous north. Wealthy residents are fleeing as semi-gration to the Western Cape and other parts of the coasts is a notable trend.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Every citizen of Joburg, my heart literally bleeds for your needless suffering under the combination of selfish interests and uselessness that attempts to pass for city governance.

    To all those desperate for things to get better, I do hope you are voting DA and working ceaselessly to get everyone you know to do likewise.

    A single strong sensible party in control is all that can save Joburg from the salivating hyenas.

  • Dave Gould says:

    This is exactly how the coalitions after the general elections are going to play out, with more time spent on deal making than on service delivery. I really think the DA should change their strategy and leave the other provinces to collapse, as they will do with or without them, and concentrate all their service delivery efforts in the Western Cape to make it an even better place to live.

  • Dee Bee says:

    I’ve just listened to Ganief Hendricks, I think it was, being interviewed on 702 about this mess. His party promises “justice, compassion, morality, upliftment and the development of all South Africans.” And yet he claimed that Thapelo Ahmed was the best mayor Joburg has had since 2016! (Given that most have been from the ANC in that time, he may have a point). He claimed that Ahmed had been praised by Deputy President Paul Mashatile (that’s possible: Mr R500K lunch is hardly a beacon of decency and ability himself), that in less than 100 days he had restored Joburg’s finances to glory and that he’s an all-round brilliant guy. So why is he being booted out, even by the ANC losers that put him there in the first place?

    Is it not time that those who run our city have a set of minimum qualifications and experience – a clearly demonstrated track record – before they’re allowed anywhere near council and the mayoral chains? The City of Joburg is a huge, very complex beast and can’t have these playground popgun populists and their sleazy tender bender backers destroying what’s left of its value.

  • Paul Botha says:

    Most politicians lie and the populace knows and accepts it. So why don’t the opposition parties not state that they will continue with the grant system when it power. It must be a big sticking point for fearful voters to swap their vote to the DA.

    • Michael Shepstone says:

      I agree! The DA are well entrenched in the Western Cape, but seem incapable of explaining their policies for the rest of the country.
      Why are they not explaining their views on social grants, hospitals, SOE’s etc?
      If someone had to ask, I would have difficulty explaining the DA policies – or am I just right out of the loop?

  • Rob Glenister says:

    I’d say ‘bye bye Joburg’ but it’s already down the drain. Only problem is that there’s not enough water to flush it.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Another good reason to vote DA. McKenzie is just yap yap.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    Eighteen political parties are currently represented in our council. For me at least there are a dozen or more minnows that are essentially self-seeking and have incoherent or irrelevant manifestos. Essentially political prostitutes selling their wares to the highest bidder. Of course that highest bidder is the noxious ANC/EFF cabal. I will be voting DA next year simply because they deliver to higher order in the Western Cape and appear to make inroads in municipalities they currently control elsewhere.

  • Paul Vermeulen says:

    Why is solar power fingered as the main culprit for the revenue problems of the City? The real problem is not energy sales losses from solar, but the inability to deal with collecting revenue due from municipal services, electricity theft and meter tampering. Losses from these problems and load shedding are ten times more than the losses from solar. Wake up to the real problems – what happened to DM applying factual journalism?

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