Insourcing in Joburg has changed the lives of thousands

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Herman Mashaba resigns as mayor of Joburg. Picture: Papi Morake/Gallo ImagesPHOTO:
Herman Mashaba resigns as mayor of Joburg. Picture: Papi Morake/Gallo ImagesPHOTO:

During a speech at his inauguration in May 1994, former president Nelson Mandela said: “The task at hand will not be easy, but you have mandated us to change South Africa from a land in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future.”

This rings true to me when I think of the monumental task we have undertaken as the DA-led coalition government since we were elected into office in 2016 under the exemplary leadership of Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba.

Just as we witnessed history when the City of Johannesburg successfully rolled out the first phase of insourcing through the direct employment of security and cleaning personnel in 2018 and 2019, Tata’s words rang true to me, that indeed the task has not been an easy one, but someone had to do it.

We did it and continue to do it.

We gave dignity and a sense of belonging to thousands of men and women who have served the city for years, if not decades, as employees of companies that were doing business with the city and earned a pittance while doing so – with little in the way of job security and employment benefits.

We allowed these men and women to write their own history by ensuring they realise an improvement in their plight and wish to be directly and permanently employed by the city.

Our observation after we assumed office in 2016 was that the City depended extensively on politically connected service providers for security and cleaning services.

For their services, the previous administration happily paid these service providers well over R700 million on an annual basis.

Each security guard earned under R4 000 per month, while the security companies received more than R12 000 per month per security guard.

We knew something had to be done about it and the status quo changed!

Under the leadership of Mayor Mashaba, there had to be a major policy shift and a dream was born.

Through negotiations with our coalition and voting partners, we pushed for the insourcing of security and cleaning services into the city’s administration.

Upon council approval, a long and tedious process – fraught with difficulties and technicalities – began.

It was difficult, sometimes painful, but we never surrendered.

Thousands of lives are now forever changed.

The commitment and dedication exhibited by one of the city’s most important stakeholders, the human resources (HR) staff, stands out and must be applauded.

These officials have put in many hours, including working overtime as well as on weekends ensuring that the process unfolds in a managed fashion.

Various city departments provided unwavering support by bringing technical assistance and advice throughout the whole project in their respective areas of expertise.

Before we undertook the project, the possibility of insourcing at the City of Johannesburg by the DA-led coalition government was nothing more than a pipe dream.

It is now a reality that has been achieved through hard work and determination.

We have brought substantive change in the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens.

We inherited an almost dysfunctional city run by successive ANC governments for close to 20 years. In this undertaking, we have had a challenging balancing act, not only in ensuring that we deliver other services to residents and champion the interests of the poor, but also that we foster the creation of a business environment that spurs growth, and fights corruption in these tough economic times.

To achieve this, the scourge of corruption was, and is still, declared enemy number one within the city.

We implemented the Ethics programme and Security Vetting of City employees.

These programmes are continuing because they contribute towards the elimination of fraud and corruption, as well as improving good and ethical conduct, with high levels of integrity, by all employees.

Amongst the challenges I inherited in Corporate and Shared Services, the department I am privileged to lead, were ageing ICT infrastructure, inadequate “incentive” mechanisms to support the performance management system as well as ethical lapses and corruption.

In our attempts at professionalising the workforce, we coined the term “Service with Pride” which is part of an ongoing campaign aimed at instilling a particular approach to how officials carry out their duties.

We have had great success.

The recognised officials continue to perform even better than before, generally going beyond the call of duty, an effect being seen gradually across the city.

All these challenges did not deter us from delivering on our promise to the residents who made a clear demand for change of leadership in the city.

In fact, these challenges were our reality and we have had to fix a lot of things.

We put financial commitments to the goals of our political mandate on insourcing and were instilling a culture of prudent financial management, owing to the weak and failing economy under the ANC national and provincial governments.

All processes for the insourcing of both security and cleaning personnel are close to conclusion (apart from a few technical issues), and over 5000 employees and their families have benefitted greatly from normal employee benefits such as pension fund, medical aid, flexible working hours and an increased salary.

The success in the insourcing project has culminated in the city being recognised nationally as a model for insourcing.

This weekend over 1000 additional security guards will be undergoing the process of onboarding where their documents will be processed, so they can properly assume their duties on November 1 as the last group of insourced officials.

Our objective to change the circumstances of the forgotten people of Johannesburg was realised through the insourcing project.

These colleagues will never be forgotten again.

They will no longer be exploited nor struggle with basic necessities.

The nine years of reckless mismanagement of the South African economy under former president Jacob Zuma and his then deputy and current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, taught us that a lack of economic growth hinders lasting development.

In our corner of the world we have made our contribution to growing the economy by increasing the availability of resources.

We would, obviously, wish to do more by increasing the number of skilled professionals we recruit, to help us optimise our agenda of professionalising the civil service, promoting good governance, improving transport and preserve resources for future generations despite the current challenges the city faces.

In the meantime, the employment of the security and cleaning personnel will provide security to the city’s assets while the cleaning services will ensure that we operate in a clean and hygienic environment thus helping us with improved efficiency and effectiveness.

As this administration led by Mayor Mashaba approaches the end of its term of office, and with the 2021 local government elections advancing rapidly into sight, my colleagues and I approach the end knowing that history will be on our side.

History will honour our efforts.

The City of Johannesburg is, and will always be, the first municipality in South Africa to roll out insourcing on this scale successfully.

We have delivered!

The success of the project is owed to the residents of Johannesburg, the city’s dedicated staff, as well as our coalition and voting partners.

Dr Ntombi Khumalo is a DA Councillor and Member of the Mayoral Committee for Corporate and Shared Services in the City of Johannesburg

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