New Joburg mayor full of promises for the city

New Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo at Johannesburg Council Chambers in Johannesburg, 4 December 2019, after at two members of the Democratic Alliance voted against their own mayoral candidate, Funzela Ngobeni. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Service delivery would be a top priority, as well as the uprooting of graft and a helping hand for the poor.

Newly appointed City of Joburg mayor Geoff Makhubo yesterday vowed to prioritise service delivery and revamp the metro’s finances, which he believed were “on the brink of collapse”.

Makhubo said the city’s finances were on the verge of collapse, with City Power’s assets sitting at R3.1 billion and liabilities at R9.5 billion. He said service providers had not been paid and might not be for the next three months.

The ruling party, he said, had returned at a time when the City of Joburg was facing a liquidity crunch with irregular expenditure amounting to R6.2 billion. He described the metro as “one of the worst culprits when considering financial mismanagement”.

Makhubo told a media briefing that under his reign, service delivery would be a top priority and resources to fulfil his duties had already been allocated.

“We will focus on service delivery programmes that will rebuild the city to ensure that six kilolitres of water are provided; we will electrify both informal and formal settlements; clean our city three times a day; build houses that promoted integrated human settlements, including hostels and upgrade and maintain road infrastructure.

“We will establish a service delivery joint operation centre composed of senior managers from all departments and entities to coordinate our operations across the city, create a safer city where people can live, work and play, build cohesive communities that will enable people to coexist with each other.”

The ANC-led government committed to rebuilding relationships, building community trust and creating an enabling working environment that would build the Johannesburg economy.

There would be free Wi-Fi for those who otherwise had no access, such as students from the townships, and City of Joburg departments.

Along with infrastructure investment of R100 billion over 10 years, food banks would provide social safety nets to the poorest. They would have access to free basic services, like six kilolitres of water and six free kilowatt hours of electricity per month.

He committed to putting in place systems that would enable the city to become financially sustainable and he vowed that good governance would be practiced daily, and that corruption and malfeasance would be dealt with decisively.

The uprooting of corruption was one of his most important mandates. He said under the Democratic Alliance (DA) administration R34 billion had been lost through corruption but they had no evidence to prove it.

He bashed former mayor Herman Mashaba’s safety drive, Buya Mthetho (return the law), saying it made very little impact in dealing with crime, claiming law enforcement had collapsed while crime had reached unprecedented proportions.

The new mayor called upon the council’s different political parties to work together and put residents first.

Makhubo won with 137 votes, while the DA’s Funzi Ngobeni received 101 votes out of 104 and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Musa Novela got 30. There were indications that three DA councillors voted for the ANC.

In a statement, Mashaba said Makhubo’s win confirmed his fears that there were flaws in the DA political system. “The fact that Makhubo was elected with the help of some members of the previous multi-party coalition government, together with a number of DA councillors demonstrates everything that is wrong with our political system. The considerations were all about personal and political benefit and not about the residents of Johannesburg,” he said.

He cited amaBhungane’s expose last year that showed Makhubo and former mayor Parks Tau “orchestrated a windfall of at least R30 million for Makhubo by allowing him to unduly act as broker for Gupta-linked Regiments Fund Managers, giving the fund managers unfettered access to lucrative deals within the city.”

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