From ‘act of God’ to ‘scammer’ claims: 5 things to know about new Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda

08 May 2023 - 09:40
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Kabelo Gwamanda of Al Jama-ah gave his first speech as mayor of Johannesburg last week.
Kabelo Gwamanda of Al Jama-ah gave his first speech as mayor of Johannesburg last week.
Image: Gallo Images/Sydney Seshibedi

Al-Jama-ah's Kabelo Gwamanda is the new mayor of the City of Johannesburg after winning the electoral bid against the DA's Mpho Phalatse and ActionSA's Funzi Ngobeni.

The total number of votes cast in the election was 266. Gwamanda received 139 votes, Phalatse received 68 and Ngobeni 59.

Gwamanda received the backing of the ANC, EFF and minority parties. He replaces former mayor Thapelo Amad, also of Al Jama-ah. 

Here are five things to know about Gwamanda:

City’s ninth mayor

Gwamanda becomes the city’s ninth mayor since 2016. He follows Parks Tau (2016), Herman Mashaba (2016-2019), Geoff Makhubo (2020-2021), Mpho Moerane (2021), Jolidee Matongo (2021), Mpho Phalatse (2021-2022), Dada Morero (2022) and Thapelo Amad (2023). 

Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks said Gwamanda was well-equipped for the position. 

According to Hendricks, Gwamanda was an adviser to his office. He was also an adviser for mayors Makhubo, Matongo and Moerane. He is the secretary of the minority parties in council.

'An act of God'

Gwamanda, who hails from Soweto, said his election was “an act of God”.

“It is my view that the responsibility is one that is duty bound, and not a mere title of glamour, prestige or celebrity status that most would want to think.

“As such, the outcome of this democratic process should not be misconstrued with narratives that seek to cast aspersions and suggest we as a people are incapable of self-determination and further insinuate from a position of ignorance that this is a doomsday coalition simply because the events unfolding seem unfortunately beyond their rationale,” he said during his speech after being sworn in.

Plans as mayor

The mayor vowed to prioritise improving the quality of service across all departments and entities.

“Our service delivery mandate is one that is clear, unambiguous and requires no adjustment. These objectives address the context in which the residents interpret what service delivery translates into for them,” said Gwamanda

“Our approach as government needs to be respectful to the residents and be resident-centric. We have to provide services that are at least worth paying for, rather than demand payment because it is legislated.”

New mayoral committee

Gwamanda also announced the members of his mayoral committee (MMC), saying it is “bound by a sense of duty embedded in their DNA as a people first, and as a new dispensation first”.

The committee includes:

  • MMC of finance Dada Morero (ANC);
  • MMC of economic development Nomoya Daphney Mnisi (ANC);
  • Environment and infrastructure services department MMC Jack Sekwaila (ANC);
  • Human settlement MMC Anthea Natasha Leitch (Patriotic Alliance);
  • Transport MMC Kenny Kunene (PA);
  • Health and social development MMC Ennie Makhafola​ (EFF);
  • Group corporate shared services MMC Loyiso Masuku (ANC);
  • Community development MMC Lubabalo Magwentshu (ATM);
  • Development planning MMC Eunice Mgcina (ANC), and;
  • Public safety MMC Mgcini Tshwaku (EFF).


Phalatse accused Gwamanda of being part of a Ponzi scheme that allegedly “swindled and scammed” many residents in the city.

She said he could not be trusted with mayoral responsibilities, including overseeing the more than R70bn budget. 

“The DA will be bringing these allegations to the attention of the police for further investigation together with a victim of this scheme,” said Phalatse. 

“We suggest the executive mayor must, in less than 48 hours (from Sunday), take the public into his confidence by holding a public media briefing to provide clarity and assure the public he will not interfere with this investigation.”

Speaking to Sowetan on Sunday, Gwamanda and his office labelled the allegations a “character assassination”.

He denied swindling and scamming people, saying anyone who claimed he robbed them should open a case against him.

“[I am] not shaken or bothered by the DA. Remember, the DA’s political approach is attacking other political parties. No-one knows what they stand for.”

Hendricks said the ANC did a vetting process of Gwamanda and the secretary-general of the party Fikile Mbalula said he passed with a “clean bill”.


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