Herman Mashaba reckons he was a success - the ANC is not so sure

21 October 2019 - 16:47 By ERNEST MABUZA
Outgoing Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba recorded numerous successes during his tenure, although the ANC blames him for the city's problems.
Outgoing Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba recorded numerous successes during his tenure, although the ANC blames him for the city's problems.
Image: Sunday Times.

Under mayor Herman Mashaba, Johannesburg facilitated investment worth R16bn in the 2018/19 financial year, up from R8.7bn the year before, and the creation of 110,000 new jobs in the city.

These achievements have been publicly recorded by Mashaba, who announced his resignation, effective from November 27, on Monday.

The ANC's greater Johannesburg region, however, had a different view, saying that his resignation had little to do with the election of Helen Zille as the DA's federal executive chairperson.

“His resignation is informed by the dire financial crisis that he has plunged the city  into,” the party charged.

Herman Mashaba has resigned as the mayor of Johannesburg on October 21 2019. His resignation comes after former DA leader Helen Zille was elected as the party's new federal council chairperson.

Mashaba has at times had a turbulent tenure as mayor and came under fire last month after saying he had "nothing to apologise for" after a spate of xenophobic attacks in the city.

Mashaba said in his state of the city address earlier this year that the role of an effective government was creating an enabling environment in which the economic potential of individuals and business flourished.

He said 84 properties that the city had released to the private sector for low-cost affordable accommodation had a guaranteed level of investment of R20bn and would produce 6,500 housing units.

"I am informed that this is the largest property investment facilitated by an municipality  in the history of the country," he said.

"The construction sector, which is in decline across our country, is growing in Johannesburg. From these 84 buildings alone, we will create more than 11,000 jobs in Johannesburg."

Mashaba cited the city’s fight against corruption as one of his achievements. After taking over, the city immediately established an anti-corruption unit headed by Gen Shadrack Sibiya to fight corruption in every corner of the administration. Since the unit's launch just over two years ago, 5,335 cases had been investigated, involving more than R24bn in transactions.

A number of prosecution-ready cases had been handed to law enforcement authorities for prosecution. "However, to date, our criminal justice system has failed Johannesburg and its residents by delaying the prosecution of officials, politicians and tenderpreneurs who have stolen public money," said Mashaba.

Mashaba’s administration has also led to the insourcing of 3,000 security guards, who now have the benefit of fulltime employment.

"It was a departure from the previous model of contracting security companies owned by politically connected individuals, who would receive on average R12,000 per security guard. The guards themselves were only paid R4,000 per month and often treated poorly by these companies," he said.

However, ANC councillor and ANC greater Johannesburg region spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said when the ANC relinquished control of the city, City Power had a cash-positive balance of R3bn. "They are now running on an overdraft of R2.9bn - that in itself tells you there is a financial problem," he said, adding that City Power was the largest generator of profit for the city.

Matongo claimed that the city had been borrowing money from financial markets for a long time to cover expenses as it was failing to collect revenue for rates and services. He said this was the reason for GCR Ratings placing the city 's rating on a negative outlook.

"The negative outlook reflects GCR’s concerns regarding the persistent high gearing and weak liquidity, which weighs on the overall rating," GCR said in July.

Matongo said the ANC had expected Mashaba to "run away", seeing that in the next few months, the city might not be able to buy water from Rand Water and pay salaries to staff.

Herman Mashaba resigned from his post as Johannesburg mayor on October 21 2019. He listed unhappiness with the direction of the DA as a major factor for his departure. This leaves an uncertain future for the coalition in the city. Sunday Times political reporter Zingisa Mvumvu reports.