It's that time of year when Joburg empties out, when most of the people making the city a hotbed of madness leave for the coast, leaving those of us who want to relax to finally be able to do so.
Unfortunately, with fewer people around and more time to take note of things, one notices how the city is falling more and more apart at the seams.
Luckily we do have some people in the political arena who are there, fighting the good fight. And none more so than our local ward councillor, Tim Truluck of the DA. Our go-to guy who really does put up with a lot of grief from every quarter. Including from me – but deals with it all with pluck and aplomb. We receive weekly missives from him, keeping us up to speed with what's happening in our neck of the woods.
This week's mailer shows us just how the all-pervading shenanigans that go on at the highest echelons of our country's government filter down into our microcosm. It's a seriously good read.
Take it away, Tim:
We are all too aware of the monumental mess up that Zuma has made of our economy over the past 5 days. But this inability to realise the long term knock on effect of his action for short term political gain spreads right down to municipal level. Obviously, not the megalomaniac thoughts of Zuma himself, but of those in leadership positions in our City.
It is quite clear that the current leadership in our City are unable to turn the City around. Yes, the Mayor and his Mayoral Committee talk the talk and spout the correct politically pleasing words on the local and international stage. But when it comes to the actual doing, they are scared of the voters, unable to shift the behemoth of Joburg into gear, and consequently, cannot implement what they say they are doing.
Eusebius Mackaizer in an opinion piece in today's Independent Online entitled: “Eish, who will you vote for next year?” hits the nail on the head when he makes the link between what Zuma does, and his underlings do. He says…
“… in a sense, it is easy to simply focus on Zuma, because it allows us one focal point for our collective anger that we remain a deeply unjust society and one that is underperforming massively.” And…
“Zuma is just a symptom of the leadership malaise. One would be foolish to think that in the unlikely event of Zuma exiting the political stage voluntarily, tomorrow, all would be well within the ANC and within the state.” And …
“If the ANC cannot be effective in its oversight of a cadre it has deployed to the highest office in the land, then the ANC itself is as disastrous politically as the president.”
And so we come to why the City of Joburg stumbles from one crisis to another, from one billing problem to another street light that is out, from having no idea as to where 40% of its water goes to, to no law enforcement.
It starts at the top with ineffectual and politically motivated leadership of the Mayor and his Mayoral Committee (aka Members of the Mayoral Committee or MMC). They are the ones who steer Joburg in the direction they want, and it is they who seem to be making populist and odd leadership decisions that affect the 4 million or so Joburg residents.
These are the political leadership that instruct the entities under their portfolio to act in a certain way and do things that they want them to do. For instance, the MMC for Infrastructure and Environment, MMC Matshidiso Mfikoe, instructs the bosses of City Power, Joburg Water, Pikitup and Environment as to whether to attend the Section 79 Oversight Committee, she sits on reports meant for this committee and rides roughshod over the Committee Chair when she is upset.
The DA in Joburg has scored the Mayor and his MMCs out of ten. It is not a pretty picture.
DA's 2015 CoJ Mayoral Committee Scorecard
It is almost five years since Parks Tau has taken office as Mayor of Johannesburg, but under his leadership the so-called world class African city has merely limped along, battling to provide residents with levels of service befitting of such a title.
For years inaccurate billing has remained a constant challenge, negatively impacting the city’s finances and ultimately delaying the roll-out of much needed maintenance and upgrade programmes throughout the city.
This crisis is exacerbated by a massive R1,2 billion tender for unapproved smart electricity meters which was awarded to Edison Power, whose chairperson Vivian Reddy has close ties to President Jacob Zuma.
Over the years housing and sanitation backlogs have left thousands of residents living their lives in undignified squalor, while the city simply takes no action against large scale corruption and non-delivery.
Every day Johannesburg residents are forced to cope with massive water losses, unreliable electricity supply, poor road infrastructure, failed job creation initiatives and an ever-slowing rate of service delivery.
Johannesburg should be a world-class city. It has the capacity and the people to achieve this goal, and residents want to see it shine as a caring city for all who live in it.
Johannesburg should become a model of service delivery and excellence in South Africa, a title currently held by Cape Town.
The DA has developed this report card to rate the performance of Mayor Parks Tau and Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMCs) to analyse each individual’s grasp of their portfolio, their service delivery track record, and their willingness to be held accountable.
Executive Mayor – Cllr Parks Tau
While the city stumbles from crisis to crisis, Mayor Tau uses every publicity stunt in the book to paint a picture of a Johannesburg which is far removed from reality.
Mayor Tau is ultimately responsible for the state of the city, but yet palms it off to others and dodges accountability every step of the way.
The recent Pikitup strike is a case in point, where the mayor prioritised the Africities Summit over rampant strikers and rubbish piles all over the city. He had to turn to provincial Cooperative Governance MEC Jacob Mamabolo to act outside his mandate to intervene and restore order.
True to form, the mayor has yet to pronounce himself on the fight against corruption, water losses, electric supply instability, and housing issues.
The fact is that residents have long ago realised that mayor Tau is merely a poster boy for the city, while he allows the proper running of the city to be hampered by ineffective spending, corruption and poor management.
Mayor Tau has not met any of his key performance indicators, is not willing to be held accountable, and continues to hold Johannesburg back from being a world-class city.
MMC for Finance – Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo
Since taking over the finance portfolio in 2011 from Mayor Parks Tau, Geoffrey Makhubo has been more hands-on than his predecessor ever was.
He scores well for attending Section 79 committee meetings, for listening to opposition input, and at times, accepting important suggestions.
However, he defends the indefensible, including the R1,2 billion smart electricity meters contract with Edison, which has caused major headaches for thousands of consumers.
Makhubo likes to paint a rosy picture, pretending all is well.
Yet the recent arrests of revenue employees and officials doing business with council show that he has not been able to beat corruption and build an effective financial management environment.
MMC for Economic Development – Cllr Ruby Mathang
Under the stewardship of Cllr Mathang, the local economic development department has failed to meet key targets, and the city has failed to facilitate a “one-stop, red-carpet” facility to attract investors.
Of particular concern is that Cllr Mathang’s written responses to questions arising from quarterly reports provide the bare minimum information, leaving proper oversight completely hamstrung.
The lack of detail on business process outsourcing (BPO) and the Johannesburg Broadband Network (JBN) are prime examples.
There is a huge gap in information about what the JBN will do and how it will be funded, which creates potential for corruption and mismanagement.
Despite numerous DA requests, members of the board of the Johannesburg Market have yet to address the Economic Development Committee and answer questions.
MMC for Housing – Cllr Dan Bovu
Housing MMC Dan Bovu pays lip service to critical questions.
His responses regarding the controversial 96/97 housing list are totally unsatisfactory; claiming that 5% of applicants will be housed, yet subsequent reports have contradicted him, noting that not a single house had been allocated.
The department has failed to meet its own targets, and according to the latest quarterly report, met only four out of its 14 Key Performance Indicators.
Very little effort is made to tackle corruption and improve monitoring of service providers contracted to provide housing. Overall, project management leaves much to be desired.
As a result, contractors deliver poor quality housing or in some cases abandon building sites, leaving the city with virtually no value for money.
MMC for Public Safety – Cllr Sello Lemao
The buck for the failures of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and EMS fire services stops with Cllr Lemao.
He has let down the people of Johannesburg, which has been rated one of the world’s most unsafe cities.
Complaints about corrupt JMPD officials are received daily, while traffic law enforcement appears to be limited to occasional after-hour road blocks and joint operations.
During the past year Public Safety Department has failed on many life-and-death service deliverables, such as the Joburg 10+ service, which remains ineffective in most wards.
There are major mechanical issues with EMS fire rescue fleets, with many fire stations ill-equipped and understaffed.
Firefighters are caught up in long-standing unresolved disputes with management, and morale is at an all-time low.
MMC for Transport – Cllr Christine Walters
Cllr Walters is one of the few well-performing MMCs and puts her colleagues to shame.
She lives up to her open-door policy, boasts a strong attendance record at meetings and is always willing to assist all councillors. Her written responses are timeous and thorough.
However, the story for the two transport entities in her portfolio, Metrobus and the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), is the complete opposite. Management of both entities are reluctant to attend compulsory meetings and respond to questions unless Cllr Walters intervenes.
The JRA remains tarnished with allegations of corruption, supply chain manipulation and collusion. While motorists and commuters have to deal with potholes, broken traffic lights, and poor infrastructure, very little change seems to be in the offering.
Public transport remains a matter of concern. Metrobus struggles with a massive overdraft and low passenger usage, while staff recently went on strike over incorrect PAYE deductions.
MMC for Environment, Infrastructure and Service Delivery – Cllr Matshidiso Mfikoe
Arguably the portfolio which requires the strongest of personalities, proven leadership skills, and a track record of problem solving and negotiation – all of which are lacking in Cllr Mfikoe.
With the entities at the forefront of service delivery such as Pikitup, City Power and Joburg Water all part of this portfolio, the track records of these entities during the past years tell their own stories about Cllr Mfikoe’s poor performance.
Overall, this portfolio has underachieved on every one of its key performance indicators, evidenced by the regressing quality of service delivery and ever-growing maintenance backlog.
MMC for Development Planning – Cllr Ros Greeff
The potential for maladministration in Cllr Greeff’s department, which has a budget of hundreds of millions of rand, is incredibly high due to the lack of proper checks and balances.
The department is plagued by staff shortages and a lack of critical skills, and urgently requires a sense of professionalism.
Very few Key Performance Indicators were achieved and as such, the department has had to return R100 million in unspent funds which were destined for Mayor Tau’s “Corridors of Freedom” projects.
The questionable number of claim applications creates an environment for potential corruption with building inspectors.
MMC for Health and Social Development – Cllr Nonceba Molwele
Social assistance provided by the department is haphazard to say the least, and fails to build any solid foundation to empower those who need it most.
The social net it purports to provide has too many gaps to be effective in meeting the needs of residents.
Funding remains a critical shortcoming, but this requires political will and a commitment to the plight of the needy to fulfil.
This is echoed by Cllr Molwele’s reluctance to attend Section 79 committee meetings and her lackadaisical approach to oversight.
MMC for Community Development – Cllr Chris Vondo
The recent horrific murders and rape in Rhodes Park, Kensington highlighted the need for improved security in the City’s parks.
Cllr Vondo areas of responsibility include Joburg City Parks, the zoo, cemeteries, and open spaces, and these facilities remain poorly cleaned and maintained. In short Rhodes Park has become a poster of the department’s inability to provide residents with safe and relaxing recreation areas.
MMC for Corporate and Shared Services – Cllr Mally Mokoena
The departments are plagued by operational problems due to senior managers who do not take their work seriously and are places where political patronage appears to reign supreme.
In one instance a list of bursary recipients included relatives of an ANC councillor – these were only removed by officials after the DA vehemently opposed their inclusion.
Since then, the DA has been eagerly awaiting a report reflecting that the names had indeed been removed, but to date none has been forthcoming.
In general, the Department has failed to achieve many of their annual targets, and its budget was underspent – clear indications of a lack of skilled and competent professional staff to oversee project management and implementation.
Johannesburg requires dramatic intervention if the city is ever going to have acceptable levels of service delivery. It is clear that Mayor Tau and his MMCs are simply coasting along in the hope that people remain satisfied with a poor quality of life.
When one compares Johannesburg’s levels of service delivery, job creation initiatives, public safety plans, revenue collection and financial management with the DA-led City of Cape Town, it is abundantly clear that Johannesburg has a long way to go before it can call itself a world-class city.
During the past five years residents have seen for themselves how the gulf between Johannesburg and Cape Town has widened, and are ready to Vote DA in next year’s local government elections.
People know that where the DA governs, life is better
Cllr Vasco da Gama
DA Johannesburg Caucus Leader
082 957 8581 / firstname.lastname@example.org