While some South Africans decided December 1 was all about “ke Dezemba boss”, the big boss of Johannesburg, mayor Herman Mashaba, came out to discuss his first 100 days in office. In his speech, he dissed his predecessors in the ANC, made some promises about service delivery, and set out his plan to save Johannesburg.
So how exactly will Joburg’s new mayor save the city? These are just 5 of the changes Mashaba has planned.
1. An open tender system
“For too long, these processes have operated behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny,” Mashaba said.
“From now on they will take place in rooms open to the public, to the media and to all interested parties.”
A council meeting is scheduled for December, where Mashaba said a vote will take place on the Supply Chain Management Policy. If there is a vote to amend the policy, then Joburg will have an open tender system for the first time.
2. Getting rid of the people who occupy abandoned buildings
The mayor said there are around 115 000 people who illegally occupy abandoned buildings and that human rights lawyers who defend them are doing more harm than good.
“Some so-called human rights lawyers have used the courts to keep these people under these conditions to the benefit of the slumlords,” Mashaba said.
“To remove these people, the courts have determined that they must be provided emergency housing for an unspecified period of time within 5km of the building they reside in illegally.”
The provision of emergency housing meant that people who occupied abandoned buildings effectively jumped the housing list, Mashaba said.
“What does this say to the people who have patiently waited on our housing lists since 1996? Occupy these buildings illegally and you can jump the queue?”
The mayor, however, failed to outline a plan for a housing rollout system that will address homelessness and the long wait people experience to receive the keys to their new homes.
3. A 10-point plan for a new and improved JHB
Mashaba’s 10-point plan is almost like the National Development Plan. The aim is to provide good leadership to the people of Johannesburg and to eradicate poverty. The 10 points are as follows:
1. The city has to adjust under the leader coalition.
2. To be responsive and pro-poor.
3. To grow Joburg’s economy by 5%.
4. Professional civil service where city employees act with regard to service and economic goals.
5. Corruption is public enemy number one.
6. Compile a list of semi-completed housing units in the inner city that can be completed for housing
7. Compile an official housing list that can be accessed on the city website and by employees in the city’s offices.
8. Speed up delivery of title deeds to beneficiaries of housing projects.
9. Initiate a pilot project for clinics to open for extended hours.
10. Revitalise the Joburg inner city.
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) December 1, 2016
The main problem with the plan, however, is that Mashaba has yet to set a deadline for these promises to be fulfilled and outline how everything will be achieved.
4. Making a pro-poor billing system
Mashaba identified ways that the city’s billing system will need to change to be more pro-poor. He said the poorest in Johannesburg will receive free basic services.
“Every month they will receive 50 kilowatt-hours of electricity, 6 kilolitres of water, free sewerage and refuse removal services,” Mashaba said.
In order to achieve that, the city will ensure that people on the list are actually unable to afford those services. Mashaba, however, did not announce how the city will determine who is eligible and who is not.
He also said the property valuations process will improve so that there are fewer under-valuations and that the city will have to improve its revenue collection because it needs more moola.
“With the city close to its debt ceiling, we need to improve our collections in order to bring in more revenue to fast track service delivery,” Mashaba said.
5. The restoration of law and order
In his address, Mashaba painted a picture of Johannesburg as lawless, economically challenged and swept up in drugs. He mentioned the arrest of a foreign national in a marijuana bust, but failed to explain why the resident’s nationality was of importance.
A large portion of the speech was devoted to restoring law and order and while Johannesburg, like many cities around the world, faces issues of safety, what would a Mashaba city of order look like?
The mayor has been in office 100 days. Maybe the next 100 will tell us more.