A pro-poor and business-friendly environment is what Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA is proposing in its manifesto for this year’s local government elections.
The new kids on the block, ActionSA launched their manifesto this week, promising to unite patriotic South Africans who are committed to professional and ethical public service behind the common goal of building municipalities that enable proud, resilient and enterprising people to prosper.
In its manifesto document, ActionSA has set out goals that include customer-centric government in the delivery of services, effective administrations as well as safety and security.
Mashaba, who rose through the ranks in politics when he was the Democratic Alliance’s Johannesburg candidate for the 2016 elections, becoming the first mayor in the opposition to run the city, launched ActionSA in August last year with some notable DA and ANC leaders who had defected after relations had soured with their respective parties.
Since its launch, the party leaders have been assisting residents in municipal-related matters such as the water crisis in Hammanskraal in Tshwane.
Branding itself as a corruption-busting party, ActionSA said it will establish dedicated independent forensics units in each of the municipalities. The unit will investigate all potential corrupt activities and all political office bearers, senior officials and officials working in building plan approvals, supply chain management, electricity connections and other positions where bribes can be offered will be subjected to lifestyle audits.
ActionSA has also emphasised the protection of whistleblowers, saying it will provide protection and security and reward whistleblowing that leads to the successful prosecution of the corrupt.
“We will improve the transparency of our municipalities’ financial management and adopt stringent financial controls. We will partner with non-governmental organisations and civil society to ensure that there are dedicated independent corruption watchdogs in our municipalities. Residents deserve accountability from those responsible for spending their rates and service charges. We will ban service providers, employees or individuals convicted of corruption from ever doing business with or being employed by our municipalities,” Mashaba said.
The businessman-turned-politician has promised to establish business-friendly municipalities dedicated to building business support units.
“These units will be staffed by cross-functional and professional staff that can provide quick responses to issues preventing businesses from operating at full capacity,” he said.
“Platforms will be established as well as business support mechanisms that allow businesses and potential investors to interact with our municipalities seamlessly.”
ActionSA has also proposed that it will conduct property audits to identify abandoned and hi-jacked buildings and expropriate such buildings for public benefit.
Mashaba said the buildings will then be released to the private sector for developing mixed-use buildings that include affordable housing and student accommodation.
This is the same plan that put Mashaba in hot water while he was the DA mayor in 2018. He said he would revamp the inner-city properties by bringing in the private sector to consolidate them into business spaces, student accommodation and low-cost housing units.
In July, the Johannesburg high court ruled that the raids conducted under Mashaba’s government in 2017 and 2018 in the inner city were unlawful.
ActionSA’s manifesto indicated that the party will continue with Mashaba’s work, adding that it will make underused government assets and facilities available to the private sector and civil society.
“Our facilities must serve our residents and add value to their communities,” the party manifesto reads.
The former DA mayor has also been criticised — during his tenure — for his statements about foreigners.
In 2019, he fired off a series of tweets displaying slideshows of countries, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, next to the number of crimes committed by citizens from those countries in Johannesburg over four years.
An unapologetic Mashaba said the party will work with the department of home affairs and the police to combat illegal immigration while ensuring that legitimate asylum-seekers, refugees and skilled migrants can legally and fully enjoy access to municipal services.
ActionSA promised to work with relevant government entities to ensure that it is easier for foreigners to enter the country legally or to get protected legal status.
“Where the national government fails to deal with undocumented foreigners, we will lobby for additional grant funding and the delegation of powers to our municipalities so that we can do the work ourselves,” the party said.
ActionSA promised to drive youth development in municipalities it hopes to govern, saying it will provide opportunity centres in partnership with the private sector and other government agencies for the youth with tangible support measures, allowing them to participate gainfully in the economy.
ActionSA’s pro-poor manifesto focused on service delivery that would include free basic services to the indigent, rates policies, improved access to social services, extended operating hours at municipal facilities, expanded social support, improved access to primary healthcare, bulk infrastructure and services for informal settlements and accelerated access to housing.
In July, the party named Mashaba, Abel Tau and Letlhogonolo Moseki as its mayoral candidates for the metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni respectively.
The party submitted 116 candidates to the Electoral Commission of South Africa that it said included young candidates, the youngest being 18-year-old Chinedu Edward.
Mashaba has previously stated that the party council candidates consisted of former MPs, former MECs, entrepreneurs, legal professionals and law enforcement professionals such as former Johannesburg police chief David Tembe.