Guest Column

Diphetogo – the road to real change in Johannesburg

2018-05-22 15:34

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During the State of the City Address on 3 May 2018, I announced a fundamental departure in the approach of the City to delivering change to the residents of our City. 

This approach is now known as the Diphetogo Project. 

Diphetogo is a concept in Sesotho which captures beautifully the idea of real, transformational change. As a concept it sets itself apart from the idea of small, incremental change and places the idea in the long-term nature of its achievement. 

It is easy to see why this is imperative in the context of the City of Johannesburg. Spiralling infrastructure backlogs caused by years of ANC inaction have been allowed to develop into a monstrous R170bn backlog over ten years. 

This has seen 3900 km of our road network classified as being in poor condition while the DA-led multi-party government has been left to resolve the issue of the more than 100 000 potholes reported in the City. 

This infrastructure backlog also includes the 45 000 leaks in our porous water pipelines that leaked 107 billion litres of water in 2016/17. It involves a power network with 27% of its bulk transformers operating beyond its useful lifespan. These backlogs manifest every day in the service delivery issues which confront our residents daily. 

This speaks nothing of those people in our city who live without the dignity of water, electricity, housing or roads. 

When the multi-party government came into office on 23 August 2016, it did so on the promise of change. Nearly every party, with the exception of the ANC, ran on this as a core promise to the electorate. 

So, naturally this first required us to define the changes that were to arise from Diphetogo. Through an extensive public consultation process, it was clear to us that our residents wanted the City to get the basics right. 

Broadly speaking, those who have services want those services to work. Those who do not have the dignity of these services want to see the City do more than ever before to provide them. 

The task then became about identifying the quantum of change that could arise from the City with its financial constraints arising from years of irresponsible borrowings against the future now becoming due.

The first task was to identify the unnecessary expenditure in the city. Through a thorough analysis of expenditure patterns, it was easy to see why the priorities never got the budget they needed before. 

Over R300m in self-promoting advertising and marketing, close to R50m on domestic and international travel and over R450m on consultants. The list went on and on. 

Very quickly this was slashed to the point of being non-existent and the City, overnight, saved more than R500m which was re-directed to where it was needed – our residents. 

Many other areas were identified as being of lower priority needs, the kind of projects which should happen one day but only when the City has the basics of local government under control. 

Through this process, we were able to direct more funding to the priorities of our people, communities and businesses. 

The JMPD will now have more money than ever before and a police force that will grow by 50% in a bid to achieve the rule of law in our city. It will support the work of specialised units that can serve to crack down on the trade of drugs in our city. 

The housing budget in 2018/19 will be the largest housing budget tabled in the history of our city. It will focus on the completion of RDP housing, the rollout of serviced stands and the servicing of our informal settlements with over 50 to be serviced by 2021. 

Our roads budget, the second highest in seven financial years, sees an investment in resurfacing, bridge repairs and storm water drainage that, for the first time in recorded City history, will begin the reverse of the deterioration of our roads. 

Johannesburg Water will receive investment greater than the last four financial years that will drive down the leaks in our aged water network by 6000 in 2018/19. The provision of sanitation will also increase the percentage of people with access to toilets at a rate exceeding anything in the past. 

Investment into City Power will see the stabilisation of our electricity grid ensuring supply can exceed demand and drive down the power outages arising from the current backlog. The City has exponentially increased the provision of public lighting to ensure our streets are brightly lit as a deterrent to criminals. 

All of this, and much more, has been achieved in an environment where the capital budget of the City is reduced to deal with the legacy of a past that was characterised by irresponsible borrowing. 

The ability to prioritise spend in these Diphetogo projects arise directly from the approach of the multi-party government to listen to our residents and produce a budget that responds to their needs. 

Emanating from the Diphetogo Project will be the historic moment where, for the first time, government has partnered with our residents to begin the realisation of real, transformational change to get Johannesburg working – Diphetogo. 

- Mashaba is executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    herman mashaba  |  city of johannesburg
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