Today’s motion of no confidence in Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is part of a wider strategy to dislodge a corruption-buster.
The ANC says the municipality is on the brink of collapse, which it isn’t, despite efforts by ANC cadres in the SA Revenue Service (Sars), Eskom, and elsewhere.
In support of its motion, the ANC cites City Power and revenue collection.
City Power is indeed not as cash-flush as it could be. Here’s how Sars fits in. Sars has been politically compromised since the appointment of Tom Moyane as commissioner.
The rot at Sars is the core of Jacques Pauw’s best-seller, The President’s Keepers. Moyane and his minions drive a pro-Zupta agenda. Thus, soon after the DA-led administration took over in Johannesburg in August 2016, Sars withheld from the city a R314.5 million VAT refund.
Consider Eskom, which is also compromised. Politics motivated Eskom to terminate the contract between the Kelvin power station and Johannesburg.
City Power took a R267.6 million knock. Note also that the national department of energy has been withholding a R288.4 million grant due to City Power for work on the electrification of houses, commissioned by the city’s previous administration.
The above three examples cost City Power R870.5 million. In addition, there’s unquantified damage from sabotage, including cable theft.
How much of this is politically motivated? Who knows? The alchemy between crime and politics sometimes makes both mutually indistinguishable.
There has seemingly been sabotage of Johannesburg’s billing system, the backbone of revenue collection.
Six months ago foul play was suspected to be behind a computer glitch that led to 412 000 residents not receiving their April accounts and a further 97 000 getting incorrect bills.
In August several employees were arrested at the city’s revenue department in Braamfontein.
Since then some, by no means all, revenue officials appear to have embarked on an unofficial go-slow. This is not to suggest revenue officials are currently sabotaging the system.
Far from it, most are pulling their weight. Yet some sabotage cannot be ruled out. Given the number of city employees who were appointed because of their allegiance to the ANC, it is possible that some of the suspected sabotage at the revenue department is political.
In the city-wide fight against corruption, 451 people have been arrested, including city employees; more than 100 city employees have been suspended and seven dismissed.
R16 billion in corruption has been uncovered. In the background, there are problems with SA’s municipal funding model, highlighted by threats to restrict water supply to municipalities which are not paying their bills, because they can’t collect from consumers.
A 2017 Treasury report said the inability to collect debt and raise revenue is threatening municipal sustainability countrywide.
Yesterday a Business Day editorial said municipal finance structures must be rethought before they fall into irreparable ruin.
In this context, the ANC’s manipulation downwards of Joburg’s income is cynical political exploitation, which cannot prevail. Crooks have lost confidence in their ability to loot.
We can have confidence in Mashaba.