Sons of Soweto go head to head

2011-05-15 20:48

Johannesburg - With a purse of gold and a magical skyline; with residents from every corner of Mzansi and much further afield, Johannesburg is South Africa’s cosmopolitan heartbeat.

It is the coveted heartland, its crown now contested by two sons of Soweto.

The ANC’s mayoral candidate is Parks Tau, currently head of finances in the mayoral committee.

Tau, who is 40 years old, is a no-nonsense workhorse.

He doesn’t seek media attention and ran a low-key campaign because the governing party decided not to officially name its mayoral candidates.

For the first time, the DA has fielded a black mayoral candidate: Mmusi Maimane.

The 30-year-old management graduate and practising consultant is an urban political party’s dream. Slick and street-smart, he charmed everywhere he went on the hustings, from the country clubs to the township markets.

For the first time, the city had the semblance of a race to watch. From 1994, Johannesburg has run a racial poll: blacks vote for the ANC and whites, along increasingly with coloureds and Indians, vote for the DA.

Close race

How will it end? The DA predicts a close race with the possibility of a small ANC victory.

The ANC’s latest figures suggest it will end the race with about 62% of the final vote.

The opposition was pleasantly surprised at a black bump of support that saw its numbers swell, possibly because of the Maimane effect or a nascent sign of a non-racial opposition vote beginning to form.

Middle-class voters tend to pick parties on issues - and the numbers ­suggest they are beginning to vote on present lived experience lines rather than that of history.

But an ANC strategist said polls “confirmed a racial voting pattern”.

Black ­voters have signalled an intention to vote for the ANC, while the opposition looks set to retain control of the suburban white vote.

There is rising support for the ANC in the south of Johannesburg where the black middle class resides and a lift in ANC support in the northern suburbs, he said.

ANC campaigning in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs has undergone a sea change.

Billing crisis

Last week, the Sunday Times reported that classic dinners, ­croissant and coffee soirees and house parties at exquisite mansions had filled the coffers of suburban candidates.

But, in the main, the ANC has failed to break the racial pattern largely because of the dismal billing crisis which has ­beset the city. Revenue collection is a black hole.

But Johannesburg spends more per resident than Cape Town (and more than any other city) and it has a bigger and ­better capex budget than the Mother City.

This is plain to see in Soweto, which is a city within a city now and no longer a township.

But the imperative to make formal the informal will never end: Johannesburg is a seething mass of humanity arriving in throngs by the day.

Fly in and you can see new shacklands springing up, the zinc of new shacks glinting in the winter sun.

Balancing act

Running ­Johannesburg is a permanent balancing act between maintenance of the old city and development of the new.
The ANC’s last term revealed an administration focused on redistribution but not on maintenance.

An interesting piece of research showed that potholes were the fourth biggest issue for both black and white voters.

The colour of money is changing in ­Jozi. It is the quintessential city in flux and the new mayor will have to take that into account.

Either way, this is the city battle to watch on Wednesday.

  • MK007 - 2011-05-15 21:00

    lets see if the DA can shake things up

  • waine - 2011-05-15 21:03

    This is going to be interesting.

  • nutcaiss - 2011-05-15 21:46

    Everythings going to be ok, cause everyones going to vote DA

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-05-15 22:38

      Overly optimistic, i'd say, but lets hope all the same.

  • RVQ - 2011-05-15 22:37

    Curious, Mmusi Maimane management graduate, what does Parks Tau have behind his name? I may be old fashioned but I very much prefer this countries leaders to have at least passed matric...

      Damask - 2011-05-16 07:57

      Nice one... if a man who does not have matric can become President, and several others who have not completed their schooling can hold high positions of power, what incentive is there for the poor man on the street to finish school, when he is struggling just to survive every day?

      Thembisile - 2011-05-16 08:54

      I agree with you.

      Almaki - 2011-05-16 11:42

      Unfortunately, he is the man who is currently in charge of the Finance, Strategy and Economic development portfolio - in essence, the man responsible for the billing crisis. On the other hand, unlike the current mayor, he took responsibility for the mess. He is apparently studying towards an MBA.

  • cara - 2011-05-15 22:52

    I am happy to see that the picture of a so-called white party for the DA is dwindling. And that intelligent and qualified black people are looking to other pastures than only the ANC. We really need a democracy.

      gksa - 2011-05-16 00:05

      "But an ANC strategist said polls 'confirmed a racial voting pattern'." They don't seem too concerned about trying to change that, either. But that might be a little short-sighted... if the swing towards non-racial voting does happen (and we all know it's gotta happen at some point) then the ANC be getting the short end of the stick if they haven't been wooing voters from all backgrounds.

  • gksa - 2011-05-16 00:02

    "But Johannesburg spends more per resident than Cape Town (and more than any other city) and it has a bigger and ­better capex budget than the Mother City." That's not difficult - they key, however, is to achieve as much as possible without spending more than you earn! Also, you can't measure results in terms of money spent - not if some municipalities apparently need R40 000 per toilet enclosure! (Other people can build a small house for that price.)

  • LadyJJ - 2011-05-16 09:44

    All the best too all of them ....may the best party win

  • Coin - 2011-05-16 09:45

    "Johannesburg is South Africa’s cosmopolitan heartbeat." - Nope, in fact it is Cape Town. For all the years Cape Town has been referred to as "one of the top 10 cosmopolitan cities of the world". Johannesburg is the racist capital of South Africa, yes and a very far cry away from cosmopolitan. Stop copying and stealing from Cape Town. Think up your own new ideas and references, or just admit that Cape Town is the best and that you guys really do need our help, as you can't manage Johannesburg on your own :)

  • WhiteAfrican - 2011-05-16 10:13

    To all ANC voters: I'm not saying don't vote for the ANC, I'm not saying vote for the DA, I'm saying make your own mind up and decide what is BEST for you and your children. Please think about it carefully. Your vote has the power and no one should be allowed to intimidate you into voting for them. Please do not let your hatred ruin your chance to give your children a better future. Vote for the party who has the best record. If they disappoint you, you could always vote for a different party next time. That is what democracy is all about. I'm asking you to take a chance. What do you have to lose? Open yourself up to opportunities. This isn't the way its supposed to be people but we can change it. I beg you, vote with your head, not your heart!

  • mark.molema80 - 2011-05-16 11:07

    VOTE DA!!! Vote for a better city! A Well run city! A city that has the money to clean up this town!

  • ian.d.samson - 2011-05-16 11:49

    The entire country is in dire need of a DA shake up, and the ANC needs a GET OUT message!

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