Big plans for the poor

2017-05-07 06:01
Joburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba Picture: Jabu Kumalo

Joburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba Picture: Jabu Kumalo

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Joburg Mayor Mashaba says RDP houses are not fit for human beings.

He last set foot at some of Johannesburg’s dilapidated hostels, which he likened to prisons, during his campaign blitz ahead of the August local polls, carrying a basket of promises in return for DA votes.

This week, Joburg mayor and self-proclaimed corruption buster Herman Mashaba promised to keep his word, pointing out that he had selected three hostels for revamping.

And instead of encouraging the building of RDP houses, Mashaba said his administration had identified a generous portion of city-owned land to be developed into serviced stands with running water, electricity, and a sewerage system to give poor people living in squalid conditions the dignity of becoming homeowners.

Last year, Mashaba took his campaign to a number of hostels in Alexandra, a short distance from his Sandton home.

This week was a big one for Mashaba as he delivered his first state of the city address in the new picturesque R360 million council chambers, which are courtesy of the previous ANC-led administration under Parks Tau.

It is here that he outlined progress on his 10-point plan developed soon after taking office, saying it represented a way for the new coalition government to start making its own impact.

Within the proposal was an ambitious plan to grow the economy by 5% by 2021, aimed at driving down the city’s crippling unemployment rate, with 862 000 of the city’s citizens currently without jobs.

In an interview with City Press on Thursday, a day after his address, Mashaba reiterated that, should the economy not achieve the set target by 2021, he must face the chop and not return for a second term.

Mashaba spoke almost without pausing to breathe as he pointed out, one after the other, what changes he would bring, adding that a key directive in the city’s adjusted budget process had been to ensure that a minimum of 60% of capital expenditure must be in poor communities.

For Mashaba, the plight of hostel dwellers, some of whom took up DA membership during his campaign trail last year, was one of the priorities for his June 2017/18 budget.

“We are targeting three hostels,” he asserted without revealing much detail.

Faced with an enormous housing backlog he traces back to his predecessors, his administration’s focus will shift to servicing sites.

Historically, the city could only deliver 2 500 to 3 500 houses per year.

“Instead of building RDP houses, what we want to do is to identify the city’s own land and service it. Give it water, electrify, [sewerage systems] and give people title deeds so that when they build their houses, they build them in proper places,” he said on the pilot project.

Mashaba said he honestly believed almost all the RDP houses built so far were unsuitable for habitation by human beings.

“We want to give people the opportunity to build their own houses by giving them the serviced stands.”

He said instead of just building the maximum 3 500 houses, the city would make available the serviced land to allow people on the waiting list to build their homes.

Mashaba would not reveal just how much had been allocated to ensure this happened, only saying details would be outlined in his budget speech in a month’s time.

This will be the first budget of the DA-led coalition government in the city.

The administration has been, by law, locked into running the city based on an ANC budget that the coalition adjusted in February, effecting only 10% “pro-poor” changes under the watchful eye of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

This saw Mashaba scrapping some projects initiated by Tau, labelling them “vanity projects” meant to “benefit cadres”. The most contentious was the R1 billion Jozi@Work project.

Mashaba will from January initiate the insourcing of security services. Considerations are also being made to insource catering and cleaning services and qualified professionals such as accountants.

Outsourcing security services costs the city a staggering R360 million per year.

Mashaba could not resist taking aim at Tau, whom he said preached a hollow gospel of a world-class city in the face of corruption that the mayor will continue to expose despite attempts by the ANC to “frustrate” him.

Mashaba said there was a new sheriff in town and people should embrace the new coalition government.

“I’m saying to everyone ... you are in a safe place, you have a new executive mayor who operates on the basis of consultation and engagement with all the coalition partners, including the EFF.

“It’s not what I decided; the voters are our bosses and they decided to vote for this arrangement.


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Read more on:    herman mashaba  |  rdp houses

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