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State of the City wrap: Mashaba vows to focus on Joburg’s ‘forgotten people’

Mayor Herman Mashaba has described his predecessor Parks Tau’s administration as one of self-enrichment, mismanagement and incorrect priorities and has promised not to do the same.

“We are going to fix this city by getting our priorities right for the first time, by focusing on the basics for the first time, by paying attention to the bread and butter issues of service delivery,” he said during his first State of the City address on Wednesday.

His administration had inherited “enormous challenges” and was working on rebuilding trust with residents. It had made changes to legislation that would help Johannesburg’s forgotten people.

These were:

– The allocation of R546-million for electrifying incomplete housing units;

– The allocation of R41-million to electrify five informal settlements;

– The allocation of R51-million to buy more busses for the Metro Bus service, and R5-million to refurbish the current fleet;

– Tarring roads in impoverished areas in Doornkop, Lawley, Mayibuye, Tshepisong, Protea South and Ivory Park;

– The allocation of money to extend the hours of five additional clinics that would operate seven days a week;

– An additional R291-million for the Johannesburg Social Housing Company to purchase inner city buildings to be refurbished and converted into low-cost rental stock for 1 164 families;

– The allocation of R49-million to Pikitup for additional cleaning shifts, with a focus on the inner city and informal settlements. This had already led to the employment of 640 residents; and

– The allocation of R2-million for the construction of homeless shelters in the city.

“In the coming weeks and months, the forgotten people of our city will begin to see developments and improvements where they have previously seen nothing. They will start to see projects accelerating and progress taking shape.”

Unemployment in the city was still a major problem, with 862 000 residents still without jobs, he said. The youth were the greatest casualties, facing an unemployment rate of over 50%.

The city’s projected economic growth rate of 1.6% would not help reverse this, he said.

Currently the city was losing 31% of its water to leaks. There were 371 leaks per kilometer of pipes in the city currently.

The roads repair and maintenance backlog exceeded R5-billion, he said.

The city’s housing backlog was conservatively estimated at 300 000 units and was partly the reason why there were currently 181 informal settlements across the city.

He said he had a completed list with the names of 152 000 people still waiting to be allocated houses.

“We are going to make this list public, so that anyone can query their position on the list, and know where they stand,” he said.

Although it would take time to address the housing backlog, residents would at least know that no one would jump the queue due to personal connections.

“An audit of the housing waiting list is currently underway, so that its integrity is beyond reproach,” he said.

The ANC in Johannesburg claimed Tau’s administration drew up the list.

“This is why Mashaba has not published the list as it contained a background and introductory statement that trace the development and production of the waiting list back to the ANC government,” spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said in a statement.

He said Mashaba was piggy-backing off the work of the ANC-led administration when he claimed to have distributed 2800 title deeds since taking office. Mashaba had said an additional 1100 deeds were ready to be handed over to residents.

“Mr Mashaba rushed to issue title deeds that he found ready for delivery to rightful owners. We are yet to see Mashaba delivering more title deeds as he promised,” Matongo said.

Mashaba unveiled the first clinic with extended hours in Princess, Roodepoort, in October. In its first three months it had over 10 000 visitors. Almost 3 000 of them came after 4pm during the week and between 7am and 1pm on weekends. Two lives were saved during this period, he said.

The other clinics with extended hours would be opened in Freedom Park, Hikensile, Randburg, Zandspruit and Albert Street in the inner city.

“A proper functioning health care system is vital to us achieving our economic growth targets because a healthy city is a working city,” Mashaba said. – News24

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