My administration takes a zero tolerance stance on corruption. The days of a gentle slap on the wrist or redeployment to another department are over.
The new administration in our city has an enormous task ahead of it – professionalising the public service, rooting out corruption, creating an environment that stimulates investment and job creation, revitalising our inner city, and ensuring we fast-track service delivery, especially to our poorest residents.
A key element to the success of this administration is ensuring that we stop corruption in our city. Corruption is deplorable. It hampers service delivery meant to benefit our people, especially the poor. Simply put, corruption steals from the poor and we must deal with it swiftly, severely and decisively.
Following the four-day Mayoral Lekgotla held earlier this month, the fight against corruption has been reaffirmed as a top priority of this administration. We are committed to good, clean governance with a focus on eliminating corruption through, inter alia, increasing forensic investigative capability and controls.
This follows my announcement of a 10-point plan to revive Johannesburg. The fifth element of the plan is to ensure that corruption is public enemy number one in the City of Johannesburg.
My administration takes a zero tolerance stance on corruption. The days of a gentle slap on the wrist or redeployment to another department are over. Those found guilty of fraud and corruption must go to jail and stolen money will be reclaimed.
During the election campaign, I came across many Johannesburg residents who have lost faith in their government because of corruption. At the same time, I was often challenged by the leadership of the previous administration to produce evidence of the corruption of which I spoke.
Since taking office I have been inundated with these allegations, forensic reports and questionable tenders, all of which have been purposefully hidden from the public eye. I have a number of cases that are currently at advanced stages of forensic investigation and we will be releasing the outcome of these investigations soon, because our approach is that we will share with you the outcomes of all investigations where wrongdoing is found. The public have a right to know how their money is being spent.
I have discovered that there are two kinds of corrupt people. The first we all know of and these are the people who actively engage in corrupt activities. But the second are the people in leadership who view what is going on and turn a blind eye. I have discovered that there were many people in the past who fell into this category. I regard both categories to be people who do not belong in the City of Johannesburg.
However, words will not defeat corruption, only brave actions will. It was for this reason that I announced the appointment of Mr Shadrack Sibiya as the new head of our internal investigations unit last Wednesday. I believe that the appointment of Mr Sibiya will change the direction of the City of Johannesburg by moving away from paying lip service to the fight against corruption.
Mr Sibiya started his career in the SAPS, rising to the level of Detective Captain of the National Central Bureau Interpol Pretoria. He has served in the Scorpions, ultimately as the Chief Special Investigator heading up the Free State branch. He rose to the rank of Brigadier while heading up the Commercial Crimes unit of the Hawks before becoming the Provincial Head of the Hawks in Gauteng.
Mr Sibiya is not a politician. If we are serious about rooting out fraud and corruption, it is key that we appoint experts, not politicians, to take on this fight. Individuals who possess the right skills and owe no loyalty to the political leadership in our City. Individuals who will act without fear or favour, in the best interests of our residents.
Mr Sibiya led the joint Anti-Corruption Task Team set up on the instruction of Former President Thabo Mbeki to deal with corruption in the civil service in Bhisho. Over 1,000 arrests were effected in this operation.
In 2005 while serving in the Scorpions, Mr Sibiya effected 25 arrests including the Mayor, Speaker, City Manager, COO, political advisers, the wives of the Mayor and the City Manager, and local business associates in Mangaung in the Free State.
It is exactly his approach of no fear or favour to his work that makes Mr Sibiya the right person to head up our investigation unit within the City. It is, however, this same approach that resulted in the victimisation that Mr Sibiya experienced for doing his job.
I have total confidence in Mr Sibiya. He possesses the integrity, experience and courage to perform this role in a fashion that will restore hope among our residents again.
Last Wednesday I issued my first instruction to him in front of colleagues and the media. I instructed him to investigate anyone in this City for which there is just cause. I gave him an open invitation to investigate me or any member of this government at any time he may deem necessary.
The first order of business for Mr Sibiya is to design, set up and capacitate a unit in this City. I want this unit to operate in a manner that is similar to how a Chapter 9 Institution operates to guarantee autonomy.
My second request was to ask Mr Sibiya to look into the investigations that have been conducted in the City and its entities. This must ensure that findings were correct and carried out to the letter.
My third order of business was to ask Mr Sibiya to investigate the tenders awarded in this City to identify any tenders that have been awarded to relatives of people working in the City, or to City employees or public representatives themselves.
There are many good civil servants in the City of Joburg, and I encourage them to come forward and know that they will not be persecuted or victimised. They will be protected and we will work with them to rid our City of corrupt people.
The corrupt within the City of Johannesburg have operated for a long time with people looking the other way. However, those days are now over.
I also challenge the private sector to join our fight against this plague and save our country before it spirals out of control. With both the public and private sector coming on board to fight corruption, I am confident that we will win this battle.
Indeed, the future of our young democracy depends on it. DM
Herman Mashaba is the executive mayor of Johannesburg. An entrepreneur, businessman and family man, Mashaba founded the famous company Black Like Me. His inspirational life story of overcoming formidable odds has captured the imagination of many South Africans. Born in near-poverty in GaRamotse in Hammanskraal, and raised by his sisters while his absent domestic-worker mother worked long hours, Herman sees his lifes purpose to help others find a ladder out of poverty.