Johannesburg Mayor paints administration as 'unapologetically pro-poor' in historic address

03 May 2017 - 14:10 By David Gernon

During the public opening of the new R360 million Council Chamber‚ the mayor of the City of Johannesburg called his administration “unapologetically pro-poor” and pledged a new direction to address the needs of the city’s under-served - allocating the bulk of the growing budget to this community.

In his first State of the City address‚ Democratic Alliance mayor Herman Mashaba said on Wednesday that voters had given him a mandate to break from the ways of the past to address the troubles Johannesburg faces.

“We can no longer conduct business as usual‚ it is now time for business unusual‚” he said.

Mashaba announced plans to increase funding for housing‚ lengthening hours at healthcare clinics across the city and rooting out corruption that creates wasteful spending.

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The main way the mayor hopes to fund his ambitious projects is increasing the growth rate in Johannesburg to 5% (percent) in 2021 from the current projected 1.6 percent.

“It is an ambitious target but it is what we require to bring this city’s unemployment down‚” he said. “We want Johannesburg to be the engine room of South Africa’s economic growth.”

While the new budget plan is not expected until later this month‚ Mashaba said a minimum of 60 percent of the capital expenditure will be directed towards projects in traditionally under-served communities.

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Other concrete steps Mashaba outlined included electrification of the informal settlements Finetown and Meriting and finding a service provider to supply the city’s poor with free basic services without charge.

Mashaba also touted improved revenue collection under his administration‚ noting March of this year was the first time the city had ever collected more than R3 billion. He also said the local government expects to reach the R4 billion mark in July 2017.