Herman Mashaba has worked hard at crafting a narrative he knows many South Africans would agree with. He paints a story of corruption and capture yet does nothing to show proof for his claims, writes Geoff Makhubo.
Johannesburg Executive Mayor
Herman Mashaba’s article on News24 on August 8 says a lot more about the man
than about the issues he purports to raise.
For one thing, Mashaba must
take his own advice. He writes: “It would be hypocritical of me to lament
motions of no confidence. They exist in our laws for a reason. I was one of
many glued to my television screen praying for them to succeed in removing
President Jacob Zuma in order to see my country saved from the clutches of the
state capture architects.”
Immediately after this, he
goes on to lament the very issue he said it would be “hypocritical of me
It is exactly this gap
between what he says and does that has placed the City of Johannesburg where it
is – close to a fiscal cliff, declining levels of service delivery and with uncontrolled
and ever mushrooming settlements.
City finances are not where
they should be. For example, electricity supplier City Power, which has
traditionally been the city’s cash cow, is now on perpetual overdraft of around
The revenue budget has for
the past two financial years been overstated just to balance the books. A
cursory reading of the monthly reports and the annual report will show a
consistent revenue under performance. This has been compensated for by chronic
under expenditure on critical service delivery items like waste removal, open
space management, repairs and maintenance. The City by its own admission did not
have funds to buy chemicals to clean swimming pools thereby denying communities
from poor areas (who don’t have pools in their own homes) an opportunity to swim
Mashaba seems to have worked
hard at crafting a narrative he knows many South Africans would agree with. He
paints a story of corruption and capture yet does nothing to show a thread of
proof for his claims.
Unfortunately, none of his
public claims about corruption have been borne out. Instead city council
committees like the Municipal Public Accounts Committee are continually
presented with reports trying to prove Mashaba’s corruption story. So far,
nothing tangible has been presented. Not even the Auditor General is able to
assist in this regard.
Mashaba may be in office in
the name of the Democratic Alliance but his programmes and words tell us that
he is a mere puppet and the EFF the puppet master. Only a red overall and a red
beret would complete his look.
Delivery of services has
suffered in Joburg because of a mayor who is forever redirecting money from
budgeted projects to fund populist causes like illegally providing mobile
toilets to Dali Mpofu informal settlement in Ekurhuleni.
It would have still been
wrong but a little understandable if Mashaba was going out of his way to
benefit his own party rather than its rivals.
When law enforcement acts
against illegality, as it happened in Alexandra, Mashaba outrageously promises
land invaders that they would have their illegally built homes rebuilt by the
city government. The City of Johannesburg is
in trouble when a person who is supposed to be the chief custodian of the by-laws
cannot be trusted with implementing them. Even worse, he openly calls for the
by-laws to be flouted.
While it is inevitable that
a city like Johannesburg will continue to attract those looking for better life
and economic opportunities, it is the duty of the city leadership to ensure that
the growth is controlled and planned.
Under Mashaba, the DA-led
city government allows land invasions, continues the unsustainable city sprawl
in the form of growth of new informal settlements mainly on the periphery of
The rate of uncontrolled
mushrooming of settlements around the city will in time become worse than the
Brazilian favelas and future generations are going to pay a big price for
Mashaba’s decision to allow this to fester.
All because we have a mayor
who dances to the tune of the EFF to keep him in undeserved power – as a leader
of the party that only garnered 38,37% in the 2016 local government elections.
Ironically, as things stand,
the ANC has 122 seats to the DA’s 103, yet Mashaba goes around suggesting that
the electorate “rejected” the ANC.
While it is not our place to
raise it, one must wonder if those who voted for the DA, knew they were giving
their vote to the EFF – a pseudo black nationalist party.
This question also applies
to other parties in council and how they vote on the matter will reflect if
they, like Mashaba, are happy to be run by a party that has 30 seats and 10%
While one expects a lack of
principle from the EFF, who are the master political chameleons that changes
colour depending on the bank note dangled before it, Mashaba’s jelly spinal
cord is a curious development.
Still, it is important that
ratepayers be aware that the reason for the decline of common services such as
grass cutting, repairs of potholes and of burst water pipes, waste collection and
other services is because they have a mayor whose priorities and budget decisions are determined not
by his own party, not by coalition partners, not by the needs of the residents
of the City but by his puppet masters.
Mashaba waxes lyrically
about the infrastructure backlog his administration has inherited as though he
is a recent visitor to South Africa, let alone Johannesburg. He seems to not care for the fact that the ANC inherited a city divided along
racial lines with the quality of services and amenities reflecting the colour
line that defined South African life.
Recognising that little could
be done to reverse the historical spatial development of the city, successive
ANC city government sought to stitch the city together. The Bus Rapid Transfer
(BRT) system is an example of how we have sought to do this by linking Soweto
to the inner city, educational institutions, health facilities and
ultimately to the northern areas of Alexandra, Sandton and Midrand.
Interestingly, under Mashaba’s
administration, the BRT phase of stitching the inner city, Sandton and
Alexandra through Louis Botha corridor, is delayed and remains incomplete – so
much for being a champion of prudence and service!
Mashaba can say all he likes
and profess success but the daily experiences of the City of Johannesburg
residents say it all. People know when their lives are going backwards and no
amount of playing victim can change that.
While Mashaba tries to
portray himself as a victim, the reasons the ANC seeks a vote of no confidence
is to secure the long-term future of the City. It is to save Johannesburg from
a mayor whose precarious hold on power has made him the effective lapdog of populists.
The future of the City of
Johannesburg, indeed our duty to future generations of Joburg and ratepayers
cannot afford Mashaba’s pity party, no matter how well choreographed.
– Makhubo is a chairperson
of the ANC in the Region of Johannesburg and leader of the ANC caucus in the
City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
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