The Democratic Alliance and Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba have rejected a media report that the City of Johannesburg was "cash-strapped" and "heading for a bailout", calling it false and a misrepresentation.
City Press reported on Sunday that the City's financial health was so dire there were anxieties about whether the City would be able to pay salaries at the end of the current financial year at the end of June.
The DA's national spokesperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe, however, said the City had worked tirelessly to stabilise the City's finances which yielded positive results.
"Thanks to the City's revenue collection drive, Operation Buya Mthetho, the month of May was one of the highest revenue collection months in the City's history," Nt'sekhe said.
"This can be directly attributed to a team of highly skilled professionals in the city, who are putting the interests of residents first as part of a fruitful turnaround plan."
Nt'sekhe said the ongoing effort was to reverse the damage done to the City's finances by the previously ANC-led administration.
"Since taking over the city after our 2016 local government election victory, the DA-led administration has committed itself to ensuring efficient service delivery for all citizens of Johannesburg, especially the poor," she said.
Nt'sekhe said the ANC administration had robbed poor people not only of quality service delivery but poor jobs as well through corruption.
"The City Press report appears to be critical of the money the CoJ spent on forensic investigations into corruption in the city administration. This is, however, exactly what is required to ensure that corruption never rears its head again in the CoJ as it is the reason for the country's skyrocketing unemployment rate – which currently stands at 9.5 million," she said.
"Despite the money lost to ANC corruption, the city still has a balance of R3.279 billion and this will be carefully managed as we continue to provide quality services," Nt'sekhe said.
Mashaba to lay complaint with ombudsman
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba on Sunday said he felt the article fell short of the standards in the Press Code and intended on laying a complaint with the press ombudsman.
Mashaba said "nothing could be further from the truth", and claimed the article made a number of incorrect claims which manufactured panic regarding the City's financial position.
"Worst still, these inaccuracies were specifically addressed with City Press prior to the publication of the article. However, the publication has inexplicably elected to spread these claims," he said in a statement.
"I would like to reassure our residents that the City faces no financial distress nor is the City in need of a bailout."
Earlier, City Press reported the City had a budget shortfall of R3.5bn and because of the shortfall it had to dip into its reserves to help keep it afloat.
"This, coupled with a worrying R2bn shortfall in revenue collection, has contributed to fears that the situation could have a ripple effect if it doesn't change fast enough, because the CoJ might need an intervention from provincial government and a bailout from Treasury," City Press reported.