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COALITION FRICTION

‘They can go, we are not married’ — EFF councillor Mgcini Tshwaku on shaky ties with ANC in Joburg

‘They can go, we are not married’ — EFF councillor Mgcini Tshwaku on shaky ties with ANC in Joburg
Councillor Mgcini Tshwaku at the official opening of the Diepsloot Satellite Licensing Centre in Johannesburg on 17 October 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

Public safety MMC Mgcini Tshwaku says EFF councillors have been able to work well with the ANC and other political parties in the City of Joburg, but if the partnership ends he and his colleagues will accept it.

Johannesburg’s mayoral committee member for public safety, Mgcini Tshwaku, believes the ANC might be threatened by the work EFF councillors have been doing in their respective positions. 

“If they [the ANCs] want to go, they can go, we are not married. The problem is that we do not care about money from projects; ours is to deliver services to the people. 

“The thing is that they saw that we delivered; we just opened the licensing which was stagnant for a while, there is a fire station we want to complete. You cannot blame Covid-19 and apartheid. We have this thing burning inside to show you what we can do,” he said.

This comes after Daily Maverick reported that the ANC is looking to end its partnerships with the EFF and the Patriotic Alliance following an NEC meeting at the beginning of October. 

EFF Tshwaku

Joburg public safety MMC Mgcini Tshwaku at the official opening of the Diepsloot Satellite Licensing Centre on 17 October 2023. This is part of the City’s initiative to bring services closer to the communities. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

The governing party believes the red berets have used coalitions to contest their social base and further damage the ANC’s brand.

The ANC also says the EFF has no regard for good governance and its antipathy towards ANC leaders is borne out of the self-interest of its leaders.

We said, as the EFF, for the sake of service delivery we do not play politics. Whoever shines is fine, as long as the people are happy.

However, Tshwaku says the EFF has been focused on delivering services to Johannesburg residents.

“Obviously at the beginning things were a bit intense, but it looks as if we all get along. Because MMC Jack Sekwaila will call me if he needs to enforce bylaws concerning water and electricity. We work well with MMC of development and planning [Eunice] Mgcina, she is also ANC,” he said.

“We are fine at the local level but we will always have issues when it comes to the finance side as it translates to service delivery. It has been a love-hate relationship but so far we are fine,” he said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC NEC supports cutting ties with ‘dictatorial’ EFF and pro-Israel PA in municipal coalitions

He explained that EFF councillors have put their political differences aside for the sake of service delivery.

“We said, as the EFF, for the sake of service delivery we do not play politics. Whoever shines is fine, as long as the people are happy,” he said.

“As he EFF you have to be accountable, you have no choice. Our people have not seen service delivery for 20 years and we need to see what we can do in relation to the EFF manifesto. We did not come in at their mercy, we came together so we can co-govern.” 

The ANC and the EFF managed to boot out the DA and its partners in Joburg, Mogale City and Ekurhuleni. This led to the EFF getting positions on the mayoral committees for the first time.

The EFF has two MMCs in Joburg, five in Ekurhuleni and four in Mogale City. 

Bureaucracy and tendering system nightmare 

The MMC reckons service delivery would be accelerated if the bureaucracy was held accountable and the tender system replaced with a more efficient one. 

“Procurement and tending systems are a nightmare for service delivery.  For me, that thing needs to be eradicated and there is a lot of tension and interest for tenders. 

“The whole PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] arrangement and how we procure, we must look into that and obviously you have systems and controls in place. I was frustrated and bought two cameras from my pocket,” he said.

There are a lot of bogus lawyers and we are looking at how they are enabling the hijacking of buildings.

He explained that it is mostly the political heads who are blamed when services are not being adequately delivered while the role of administrators is omitted.

“There is a bureaucratic layer sitting there and is getting paid. What is their duty? There are administrators who are sleeping on the job. Let me tell you that there are many MMCs suffering because of administrators. Service providers are not paid and this causes more delays. 

“I can tell you right now that the administrators will show you flames and they know that the media will ask the MMC. When we try to intervene they will say this is interference and we are overreaching,” he said. 

EFF Tshwaku

Mgcini Tshwaku believes service delivery would be accelerated if the bureaucracy was held accountable and the tender system replaced with a more efficient one. (Photo: Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)

Abandoned buildings

Referring to the more than 500 hijacked buildings in Johannesburg, 25 to 30 of which belong to the City of Joburg, Tshwaku said the public safety undercover unit is working on finding answers pertaining to these properties. However, he laments that some bylaws have been a stumbling block for the City. 

“It can’t be that someone hijacks a building then we have to find alternative accommodation for the people, because that is criminality,” he reiterated.

He told Daily Maverick there are finance institutions that are part of the hijacking syndicate, as well as bogus lawyers who are paid to ensure the City does not solve the problem. 

“There are a lot of bogus lawyers and we are looking at how they are enabling the hijacking of buildings. We want to know how they’re able to get court orders so quickly even before Christmas Day. What is happening now with the deeds office? Why is it easy to change from one name to another?” he questioned. 

“The financial institutions give credit to people to buy buildings, then after some months the repayment rate becomes high and then once you default they seize it. There is a whole value chain in this syndicate. 

“l am saying this because I want to show these people that the public safety department is watching them, we are on top of them, and soon this information will be made public,” he said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Joburg city officials cut illegal power to hijacked buildings, and more from around the world 

Hijacked buildings have become a talking point following a fire at Usindiso House in the CBD where 77 people died on 31 August.

At the time, only one door could be used to gain access to the hijacked building which had no fire extinguishers or fire hoses while a number of staircases were blocked and had been converted into makeshift rooms.

An inquiry chaired by retired judge Sisi Khampepe will investigate the events surrounding the fire and, more generally, the prevalence of “hijacked buildings” in Johannesburg’s inner city. DM

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