Editorial: Jozi deserves a better mayor

 

 

When Democratic Alliance-led coalitions dislodged the ANC from the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan councils after the 2016 local government elections, a new era of co-operative politics among South African opposition parties began.

But the ink on the coalition agreements had hardly dried before the alliances began to crumble, leading eventually to the inevitable collapse of the three administrations.

Johannesburg, up until a few hours before the vote for the city’s new mayor on Wednesday, faced a hung council, a fate narrowly averted by last-minute horse-trading among the parties.

The collapse provided the ANC with the perfect opportunity to take back control of the metros and install a credible, capable candidate with an impeccable record, untarnished by corruption, as mayor of the country’s economic hub.They didn’t.

Instead, the governing party recycled another of its damaged leaders, former member of the mayoral council Geoff Makhubo, as its mayoral candidate. Makhubo’s company, Molelwane Consulting, was exposed by the amaBhungane investigative journalism unit for having received a R30-million payment from Regiments Capital, a Gupta-liked entity, for its part in a contract with the city. Makhubo has defended the contract, saying it predated his move to council in 2011 and had been declared to the ANC at the time. The ANC leadership not only defended the choice of Makhubo, but overruled the rejection of his name by the Gauteng ANC provincial executive committee. Makhubo is clearly not only tarnished, but also divisive, which raises serious questions about why the ANC leadership wants him to run the city.


The appointment of Makhubo undermines the New Dawn on which Ramaphosa has based his presidency. The argument that the new mayor is not facing any criminal charges holds no water. Leaders should be beyond reproach. They are, after all, put in positions of power so that they can make all our futures better than they are today.

Here was an opportunity to do the right thing. Instead, the ANC appears to have adopted its Zuma-era default position of appointing the most corrupt, unsuitable candidate for the post, rather than somebody who is reproachless.

Surely the governing party could have found a more appropriate candidate than Makhubo for mayor of the most important city for the economy of the country? Is there not, in the ranks of the ANC in Johannesburg, an unimpeachable leader that the party could put forward to wear the mayoral chain?

The potential damage of the decision does not end with the risks posed by putting a tainted candidate in charge of a more than R60-billion annual budget. The Economic Fredom Fighters have made it clear that they will not endorse a budget presented by Makhubo, who will face similar opposition from the DA and other parties. This raises the spectre of a deadlock every time Makhubo attempts to present a budget, and another 18months of trench warfare at council level.

The residents of Johannesburg, like those of Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, want an end to the municipal collapse caused by the disintegration of the coalitions.

Instead of installing mayor in the country’s economic centre with the capacity to end the mess, the governing party has appointed one whose presence will undoubtedly make it worse.

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court hears

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

CR17 report is not perfect, but the investigation was rational, court hears

So says public protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s lawyer, who said she had reason to suspect the money was being laundered through the campaign

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Between dark and light was Maradona

The life of Diego Armando Maradona, who died this week, will always remind us that the smell of shit is as important as the perfume of flowers, writes Niren Tolsi

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court...

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

Student funding scheme gets new chief executive and board

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has been under administration for two years after its board was dissolved and its boss resigned not even halfway through his term

General Council of the Bar slams Zuma Foundation

Another summons has been served on Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla residence, requiring the former president to appear before the Zondo Commission next year
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…