NEWS

Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba Says He Can't Fulfil His Election Promises. Here's Why.

The city has been left heavily indebted and there's very little the new administration can do about it until 2017, mayor Herman Mashaba said.

01/12/2016 17:22 SAST | Updated 01/12/2016 19:22 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A view of the city of Johannesburg, which is heavily in debt, according to its mayor Herman Mashaba.

The city of Johannesburg has been left heavily indebted and with very little that the new administration can do until 2017, mayor Herman Mashaba said during his 100 days in office speech on Thursday.

"Since I have come into the office on the 23rd of August, I have come to learn that the city is not what I thought it was during my election campaign. It is far, far worse than I had thought," Mashaba said.

Mashaba said the city of Johannesburg stands at 42 percent of the debt to revenue ratio, which National Treasury limits to 45 percent as a debt ceiling. He also said the city has 881,000 unemployed people and the previous administration oversaw at least 190,000 people losing their jobs.

Mashaba has admitted that due to the challenges that he has encountered since taking over, he might not be able to immediately implement the promises he made to voters.

"I'm in the unfortunate position of inheriting a budget and an Integrated Development Plan (IDP) that was passed by the previous administration, just two months before voters demanded changes. As a result, our administration has to operate off a budget and IDP that represents the kind of 'business as usual' that voters rejected in the elections," he said.

Hands tied

Mashaba said his administration's hands are tied up until next year, when he will be able to table a budget himself.

"We cannot make amendments to the budget until the end of February 2017, when the Auditor General permits adjustments to our budget, providing they are not substantial," Mashaba said.

He said some of the contributing factors to the poor financial stability of the city has to do with the previous administration's obsession with appearing "cool". According to Mashaba, millions of rands had been spent on things that did not improve service delivery or change people's lives.

"We have inherited an IDP where hundreds of millions of rand are committed to adverts to promote vanity projects. What they did not tell you on those radio adverts and billboards, is that long-term neglect has produced a 10 year, R170 billion funding gap on capital infrastructure," he said.

Mashaba was, however, willing to applaud the previous ANC-led administration. He said unlike certain metros in the country, they did not inherit a bankrupt municipality. He said the city's balance sheet looked good but his predecessors had their priorities confused.

An out-of-touch administration

"The city spent hundreds of millions of rand promoting an artificial image of the city that not even their strongest supporters actually believed. R153 million was spent in two years on self-promoting advertising, R193 million was spent on travels. These are the symptoms of an administration that was out of touch with the needs of its own people," he said.

"It would merrily spend R340 million on a new state of the art council chamber when it could not electrify informal settlements, issue title deeds, or lift a finger to combat the rampant drug trade in our city," he added.

Mashaba said residents of the city needed a government that would be supportive of them, deliver services, fight corruption and create job opportunities and promised to lead an administration that would pride itself in doing exactly that.

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