Geoff Makhubo’s full inaugural address as Joburg’s executive mayor

Joburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo. Picture: Alaister Russell

He concluded with a list of promises that includes creating a safer city and enabling the City to become financially sustainable.

Following his appointment as Herman Mashaba’s successor on Wednesday, new executive mayor for the City of Johannesburg Geoff Makhubo hosted a media briefing on Thursday to introduce the media – and the public at large – to his vision for the city.

He thanked those who voted for him and thanked the city’s residents for what he deemed their call for the ANC to return to governance.

He went on to highlight the problems currently facing the city before concluding with a list of promises that include creating a safer city and putting systems in place that would ensure good governance and enable the City to become financially sustainable.

Read Makhubo’s full address below:

Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank the residents of Johannesburg for their call for the ANC to come back to govern the City.

I particularly want to extend my gratitude to all the councillors who heeded this call and voted for the ANC mayoral candidate. I am humbled by the support and confidence shown in me by the ANC and its partners – the Patriotic Alliance – the African Independent Congress – Aljamah – the Congress of the People – the United Democratic Movement and the Inkatha Freedom Party. I thank you.

I also extend my hand to work with all other political parties for the good of our residents. At the outset, I would like to express our commitment to serve all the residents of Johannesburg, from south to north, east to west. May we also point out that the challenges we face as a city are many and varied.

When we proposed a motion of no confidence in November 2017 and subsequently Aug 2019 it was because we had realised a downward slide in the city in respect of:

• The finances of the city,
• Service delivery has almost ground to a halt,
• Corruption has increased
• Institutional capacity and cohesion have collapsed both administratively and politically.

FINANCES

The COJ finances are on the verge of collapse; City Power assets, for example, are sitting at R3.1 billion while its liabilities are R9.5 billion. Service providers – throughout the City – have not been paid on time. We worry that among other challenges the City may not be able to foot the salary bill in about three months.

In 2016, the City had an AA rating with positive outlook in 2016 and as we return we find a city that has a negative outlook due to liquidity crunch.

Irregular expenditure to the tune of R6.2 billion incurred by the City makes it one of the worst culprits when considering the spectre of financial mismanagement.

SERVICE DELIVERY

• The City is dirty and townships have become dumping sites due to garbage not being picked up over time
• The inner city smells and has a proliferation of unattended homeless people;
• Uncontrolled land invasions that have mushroomed as a result of cowing to the masters have become the order of the day;
• Our roads are full of dongas with gaping potholes due to poor maintenance;
• People in the hostels have been neglected due to resources for maintenance having been stopped;
• Traffic lights are not working, creating gridlocks and increased travel times;
• Burst water pipes and sewer gushing down our streets resulting in unnecessary costs that have to be borne by our residents due to water losses have become common.

Resources to restore all these have to be allocated.

By-law enforcement has evidently collapsed and crime has reached unprecedented proportions throughout the City. One wonders what impact the “Buya Mthetho” program has yielded?

In spite of all these challenges, the City of Johannesburg returned almost R300 million in various grants, which funds were allocated to these critical services.

CORRUPTION

We remain committed to dealing with and uprooting corruption in the City. Statements have been made that R34 billion has been lost through corruption, and despite all our efforts to obtain evidence in this regard, even through MPAC, none of this has been forthcoming.

The current modus operandi in the city is not to follow transparent tender processes, but to use Regulation 32 to award contracts in most instances to companies that lack the requisite competencies.

INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY AND COHESION

In the last three years, we have endured divisiveness and a highly toxic political and administrative environment.

What will the ANC-led administration do differently?

It is unfortunate that we have lost three years of well-thought-through plans that were either stopped as frivolous or rushed through as part of the PR exercise alluded to such as:

• Access to free Wi-Fi which meant ensuring connectivity for those who otherwise would not be able to access IT, such as students from the township and other opportunities
• Jozi@ Work
• Corridors of Freedom
• The Youth Mobile Open University
• Infrastructure Investment of R100 billion over 10 years
• Food Banks that provided social safety nets to the poorest of the poor of our communities
• Access to free basic services like 6 kilolitres of water and 6 free kilowatt-hours of electricity per month

These will have to be reinstated among other priorities.

The power of local government is in the hands of its citizens, residents, community and employees. To address these challenges, society in Johannesburg needs to come together and work as a collective. Government as the leader of society must continue to gear itself to put in place a capable administration that will take care of aspects of the social fabric of society. As the ANC led government we are committing ourselves to:

a) Rebuilding relationships and building community trust.
b) Creating an enabling working environment that will build the Johannesburg economy.
c) Addressing the soft issues that directly contribute to the social fabric of society.

We will focus on:

1. Service delivery programmes that will rebuild the City to ensure that 6kl of water is provided, both informal and formal settlements are electrified, our city is cleaned three times a day; houses that promote integrated human settlements are built, including hostels and upgrade and maintain road infrastructure.

2. Establishing a service delivery joint operation centre composed of senior managers from all departments and entities to coordinate our operations across the city.

3. Creating a safer city where people can live, work and play.

4. Building cohesive communities that will enable people to coexist with each other.

5. Putting in place systems that will enable the City to become financially sustainable and good governance is practised daily.

6. Decisively continuing to deal with corruption and malfeasance.

7. Among these, as a leading City in Africa, we will improve inter-governmental relations with all spheres of government and multi-lateral organisations. We will work with all organised formations of local government, including SALGA.

We need to restore the pre-eminent role of the City of Johannesburg in the international stage.

Ladies and gentlemen, we do not have much time left in this term, so work begins immediately.

We call upon all parties in Council to work together with us in putting the citizens of Johannesburg first.

(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)

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