It is a great pity that City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s tweets and his controversial public statements distract attention from some of the real plans he has to save the metropolis from becoming a “failed city”.
A lot of people reacted earlier this week to his retweeting of a comparison between US President Donald Trump’s alleged successes and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alleged failures as leaders of their respective nations.
While that was going on, the executive mayor was revealing a plan to take back the city centre from grime and decay.
His ambitious “71 Buildings” project will see, he says, bad buildings – taken back from “hijackers” – turned over to developers for low-cost housing. It’s an example of current laws around expropriation without compensation being put to good use for the benefit of the majority, while harming those who could probably do with being harmed.
There will also be an opportunity for business units to open up in these areas, giving a significant boost to small entrepreneurs and allowing them to compete with other, better-resourced retail zones.
Businessperson-turned-politician Mashaba reckons as many as 100 buildings a year could be “released” in this way over the next decade.
It’s a visionary idea and we hope that it turns out to be more than vote-grabbing political rhetoric.
South Africa is in desperate need of success stories and its citizens need to know that the nation’s path in the future can head upwards and not down.