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Mashaba promises change while announcing run for Johannesburg mayor

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has announced his intention to run as mayor of Johannesburg in this year’s local government election

Mashaba resigned from the very same position in October 2019 after exiting the Democratic Alliance (DA) in protest of Helen Zille becoming chairperson of the party’s federal council. 

His abrupt exit was followed days later by then DA leader Mmusi Maimane

Mashaba’s exit resulted in the ANC reclaiming the city of gold and installing Geoff Makhubo as the new mayor. 

In his exit speech, Mashaba said he had been “tortured” by the dynamics in the DA, which saw some members of the caucus opposing the provision of basic services to historically poor and black wards, the Mail & Guardian previously reported.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that they will move to collapse these governance arrangements … a review of the coalition is predetermined,” Mashaba said.

He said he had been without a “solid mandate” from the DA, which had been the “most difficult partner” in the coalition with the Economic Freedom Fighters, and which had expected him to govern “arrogantly.”

He later formed ActionSA, taking with him some of the DA’s most influential provincial leaders, including former Gauteng leader John Moodey, Johannesburg regional leader Funzi Ngobeni and DA regional leader Abel Tau

The Mashaba train was also joined by former ANC MPs Makhosi Khoza and Vytjie Mentor

During a media briefing on Thursday, Mashaba said he had wrestled with the decision to make himself available as a candidate in the October elections.  

“Now more than ever, I believe that change starts by rebuilding our country from the ground up – community by community, ward by ward, municipality by municipality, right up to the very top at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

“The work of rebuilding our nation starts with these local government elections, and, getting Johannesburg, the heartbeat of this beautiful country, back on track. I have said it before and I will say it again – if Johannesburg works, South Africa works.” 

“I am ready to work with every resident to get our Johannesburg working. Truth be told, when I left as the mayor, a little over two years ago, I was disappointed that I was unable to complete the mission that I had set out on – certainly not under the party I then worked with,” he said.

He said that in his three years as mayor, his administration started to make “real progress”, and had seen “real changes” in turning the city around. 

Mashaba listed some of the changes his administration made during his tenure, including an investment programme to address the city’s R170-billion infrastructure backlogs by reprioritising billions from luxuries and wasteful expenditure. 

Also among the list was resurfacing almost 1000km of roads; the tarring of 88km of gravel roads throughout the city; replacing almost 200km of water pipes and more than 125km of sewer pipes, thereby reducing bursts and blockages; electrifying more than 10 000 households and providing 11 000 ablution facilities to those without basic sanitation.  

“Our efforts and successes over the three years demonstrated that change is possible. But it requires competent and ethical leaders with a decisive mandate from the community,” he said. 

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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