Gauteng Premier David Makhura weighed in on the property valuations issue in Johannesburg yesterday, saying something was fundamentally wrong with the scale of the rate increases and that residents were right to complain.
And experts warned the exorbitant rate hikes implemented by the DA-led Joburg metro council could cost the party dearly in future elections due to negative voter perceptions despite its bid to correct the matter, a political analyst has said.
Wits University School of Governance professor Susan Booysen said the DA had made a big mistake which could reverberate in the 2019 elections.
“It alienated voters at a time when incomes are not going that far, even for middle and high income earners.”
The rate increases, which were more than 100% in some instances, caused a huge outcry among residents.
Makhura, who was announcing the appointment of struggle stalwart and Gauteng deputy speaker Dikgang “Uhuru” Moiloa as new MEC of human settlements to replace Paul Mashatile, said the new rates were too high and he would intervene to get them reduced.
Makhura said he had been inundated with complaints from businesspeople and ratepayers over the overvaluation or undervaluation of their properties. He said he met mayor Herman Mashaba, who admitted errors were made on the valuations of 8 000 properties.
“The scale and impact of the erroneous valuations is not yet known. This might be the tip of the iceberg because the intervention has been focused on only 1% of more than 800 000 registered properties in Johannesburg,” Makhura said.
He encouraged residents to continue lodging complaints so erroneous valuations could be corrected, saying the first task of MEC Moiloa would be to attend to this problem.
If residents were still unhappy, he would appoint a tribunal to investigate and find a solution to the issue, including revaluation if necessary.
“I am confident he will hit the ground running,” Makhura added.
The premier said the city had admitted there were errors caused by the new valuation model. Of the 897 000 properties in the city, 8 000 were affected.
“We agreed with the mayor that while they have isolated these 8 000, they will also deal with other complaints.”
Booysen said if the DA-led council had explained the increases to ratepayers, it would have had little impact. “They really showed lack of experience by failing to balance governance and election issues.”