Opinionista Herman Mashaba 13 March 2016

Changing Johannesburg into a city of golden opportunities

Last Saturday, I unveiled my vision for the City of Johannesburg as the DA mayoral candidate. It spells out to voters precisely what we will do if elected. If you board a plane, you want to know that the pilot has a route map. And voters should expect exactly the same. Our vision is evidence-based and symmetrical: we look at what has worked in cities comparable to Johannesburg, especially in the global south.

Our starting point is that Johannesburg is already a great city. It boasts diverse cultures, and is the heartbeat of our nation.

There has been progress since 1994, when our first democratic election ushered in new hope. Mr Mandelas government made impressive progress to deliver basic services, infrastructure, and housing.

However, today that progress has stalled, and service delivery is no longer meeting peoples needs. Jobs are no longer being created at the speed at which they must be provided. In Johannesburg, the unemployment rate is 30.1% with one in three young people unemployed. Many people — especially young black people — are trapped in the nightmare of long-term unemployment.

Our 2021 vision is to see Johannesburg as Africas leading business and cultural capital, thriving at creating jobs and delivering superior services. Arising out of this is the fact that South Africas moribund economy cannot be turned around unless Johannesburgs economy is revived.

On Saturday I said: if Johannesburg works, South Africa works.

That is my ultimate dream.

A middle-income country like SA needs to grow by at least 5 percent every year to cut through the structural conditions that produce widespread poverty and inequality. Even the ANC-led national government recognises this in the NDP. As Johannesburg contributes nearly 17 percent to the countrys GDP, it is clear that the national story cannot be rewritten if Johannesburg is not turned around.

First, we will lay the foundations of a responsive and pro-poor government that listens to and acts on citizensconcerns. Our vision is based on the foundational observation that a city government is supremely well placed to provide ladders of opportunities because of its proximity to the citizen.

Sometimes a false choice is presented between being a global city such as London, New York, Frankfurt or Shanghai, and an inclusive city.

Of course, the reality is that Johannesburg has an apartheid legacy burden that needs to be addressed.

There is no future for the city unless all residents of Johannesburg can fulfil their potential. The DA will do this by actively promoting redress for past injustices. This is how lasting reconciliation is created, as Ive seen for myself in peer cities such as Kigali, Rwanda.

With jobs, the DA can remove the roadblocks to opportunities and build a fair city that everyone wants to call home. Our vision is to create many jobs in the City of Gold over five years.

Unleashing the human potential of our people

The DA believes that the citys biggest asset is its people. Although education is a concurrent national and provincial competence, I believe there is a space for local government to innovate on the supply side of the economy.

There will be schools to skillsprogrammes for teenagers to navigate one of lifes toughest journeys. Here school-leavers will be trained in how to handle the world of a business-leading city economy. Poor families will be prioritised to mend our broken society.

The DA will work with the private sector to drive two new projects. Early learning day care centres will be established in every township. Children will receive nutritious meals, nurturing, and basic pre-school education. This will allow moms and dads to return to work.

We will identify city-owned properties that entrepreneurs can adapt into top-performing schools and technical colleges of excellence for our poorest residents.

Potential start-up businesses are held back by red tape and restrictions. By-laws that obstruct business will be reviewed and amended within 100 days. City-owned land and buildings will be audited. Affordable commercial spaces for small businesses, artisans, and shops will be identified and leased out at the lowest available rental.

We will connect people to training and employment opportunities, and, using the CoJs economies of scale, help them find jobs in these new businesses.

I know how business works. With a 30-year track record of creating thousands of jobs, job creation is in my public service DNA. I’m going to replicate what Zac Goldsmith has pledged to do in London. The DA will set up an Entrepreneurial Strategy Team with representatives from all sectors of society.

We will connect aspirant entrepreneurs to microfinance and loans. Home ownership for the poor will be facilitated. As the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar has proven, formalising property rights in informal settlements is pivotal to helping our poor residents become small business owners.

The DA believes in the power of small business to change lives.

Under the DA, big supply-chain and procurement tenders will be carved up into a set of smaller contracts. Many more SMEs can then bid for them successfully. This will reverse the egregious effects of tenderpreneurs who are closely aligned to the ANC.

Consultant bills will be slashed and millions more will be directed to service delivery instead. New jobs will be created in dynamic businesses. Expertise will assist Johannesburgs businesses to evolve from start-ups to scale-ups. Acting as a grand facilitator, well also partner large, sector-focused companies with smaller businesses that want to grow.

The Internet of Everything will determine the future of successful cities. As Ive written about previously in Daily Maverick, by 2021 we will develop a customised software-defined network. All aspects of the citys infrastructure will be connected. By centralising city data, we can improve service delivery from repairing potholes to energy saving.

Visionary mayors must be highly visible in a highly connected world. I will bang the investment drum loudly. City and state trade missions to South Africa will be encouraged.

A revolution in the public service: Service with Pride

I have also elaborated in Daily Maverick how the DA will, on day one, unveil a “Service with Pride” vision. This will ensure that city officials are proud to serve. Courtesy and swiftly answered telephones will become the norm. Roving service delivery contact teams will monitor citizensservice delivery satisfaction.

Well train and develop our officials with regular evaluation and performance monitoring. Exceptional performance for raising the citys profile will be rewarded.

The Mayoral Committee will operate an executive projects dashboard. Access to the progress of every major service delivery project will be eased.

Corruption will be declared public enemy Number One. The Mayors office will fast-track evidence of wrongdoing. It will then be handed over to the criminal justice system.

Elected servants and public servants will work in harmony to establish the smartest and most efficient city government in Africa.

Fighting crime and drugs

We know that crime and drugs wreck peoples lives, and damages the citys reputation and brand. In a previous Daily Maverick column, Ive applied the “broken glass” theory to the fight against crime and rooting our corruption.

Safety and security data will be centralised to improve local policing and identify drug lords and gangs. We will implement digital technology to spot anomalies and pattern shifts to prevent crime and corruption.

We will stop corruption in the JMPD by beefing up an Integrity and Internal Investigations Unit. This will be directly accountable to the people through the Mayor and open council committees. The unit will be empowered to fast-track an internal disciplinary system. Criminal charges against corrupt officers through the criminal justice system will be pursued. We will protect the police and keep them safe with body and vehicle dashboard cameras.

Fixing Johannesburgs housing crisis

Home ownership is about investing in savings, building a family, and planting roots in a community. Shelter is a constitutional right, and the DA will fiercely uphold this basic human right. Next week, I will be writing a Daily Maverick column dedicated to this issue.

Well do four major things to turn around Johannesburgs housing crisis. First, well pass ownership without any delay by giving tens of thousands of people title deeds just like we are doing in Cape Town. The poor will be prioritised.

Second, well undo housing list corruption by making the process transparent and open, and viewable by all.

Third, well incentivise entrepreneurs who build environmentally-friendly and sustainable homes.

Fourth, well provide basic services to informal settlements with free allocations that make life easier for all who cannot afford to pay.

A simplified transport system

A simplified and integrated transport plan would get the city working. This will ensure that the poor have easy access to quality public transport.

Our vision for a healthy and social city includes steering citizens away from cars to social and efficient methods of transport. Well model what other forward-looking cities are doing. Bus rapid transit, adaptive parking, bike-sharing and walking paths will be promoted. The citys transportation technology and operational management will be streamlined.

Our transport proposals are based on what has worked in successful peer cities in the global south, like DA-run Cape Town and Bogotá under Enrique Peñalosa’s leadership. DM

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

Declassified UK

How the British establishment is working to keep Bahrain’s ruling family in power

By Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard

"Each man believes on his experience" ~ Empedocles