Invitation to fellow mayors of Gauteng to join clean-up campaign

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Multi-coloured lighting on Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg city.
Multi-coloured lighting on Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg city.

Dear fellow mayors

In 2017 the City of Johannesburg launched a monthly volunteer clean-up campaign called A Re Sebetseng. The idea behind A Re Sebetseng – SeSotho for 'let us work' – was to encourage residents of Johannesburg to take ownership of their environment, and contribute their time toward improving the cleanliness of their communities. 

The inspiration behind A Re Sebetseng was the example set by Rwanda, and their monthly country-wide clean-up campaign known as Umuganda. I experienced the power of this campaign first-hand on a visit to Kigali some years ago. I was astonished by how clean and well maintained the city was. Moreover, I was impressed when I learned that this was not simply a function of dedicated clean-up crews, but the product of a nation-wide communal effort held on the last Saturday of each month.

The Umuganda initiative has been greatly successful with Kigali widely lauded as the cleanest city in Africa. The programme has also been instrumental in Rwanda's success in building a socially cohesive country from their difficult past, and achieving an economic growth rate of over 7% with unemployment at just 15%.

When I was elected as the mayor of the City of Johannesburg, it was these very attributes of Kigali that I wanted to bring to my city – and out of that desire A Re Sebetseng was born.

Since its inception, A Re Sebetseng has seen thousands of events attended by community members resulting in the collection of over 250 000 tons of waste. The campaign has evolved over time and today comprises more than just monthly clean-ups, but extends into environmental education and broader service delivery drives. Underlying all of these initiatives remains the fundamental goal of encouraging our residents to take ownership of their surroundings and work together to improve the city they call home.

It is in this spirit of co-operation that I am writing to you and extending a formal invitation to your municipality to consider joining the A Re Sebetseng campaign. While I take pride in what we have accomplished through the City's efforts over the past 18 months, I believe that the A Re Sebetseng campaign should not be an exclusive initiative of the City of Johannesburg.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to invite you to join me in a clean-up effort in Soweto to give you the opportunity to experience A Re Sebetseng, and witness first-hand the impact it could have across our collective municipalities.

Indeed, the power of this campaign lies in transcending the borders of any one municipality and extending its reach across the province in the interest of the greater Gauteng community.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Cllr Herman Mashaba

Executive mayor, City of Johannesburg

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