Johannesburg - After more than 30 years of being in business, Johannesburg’s new mayor, Herman Mashaba, has promised to leave his directorships behind and focus solely on politics.
Mashaba promised earlier this year, when still a mayoral candidate, that he would pass his business interests on to his wife, Constance.
While Mashaba has resigned as a director of numerous companies over the years, including from well-known brands such as Mango Airlines and Stefanutti Stocks, he is still listed as an active director of 32 companies, according to Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) records.
A day after being voted in as mayor on Monday, Mashaba told News24 that he had resigned as a director of all the companies, but this might take some time to reflect in the CIPC records.
He said he started the deregistration process with all his active businesses, such as Black Like Me.
A successful businessman, Mashaba turned to politics in 2014 when he joined the DA.
Transparent tender processes
Mashaba said he would not allow any of the friendships he formed in the business world to interfere with his political life, particularly when it came to awarding tenders.
“Our tender processes will be open. If anyone thinks they can benefit from a relationship with me, it isn’t going to happen. But at the same time tenders must be open to everyone. That is one skill I will bring. I can connect small businesses to big business. With my network I can help pass on skills.”
Last year, Mashaba was listed as having a net worth of $100m.
He said it was easy for him to pass his business interests to his wife, as he considered her his best friend.
“I’m giving this business to my wife to take over and I’m going to focus exclusively on making sure that on a daily basis I talk to people of this country and city [Johannesburg], to make them understand we need short-term things to really get to long-term gain,” he told News24 in January.
He planned to run Johannesburg like a business.
“Politics and business are the same thing. How do you divorce politics from business and civil society?” he asked.
“Politics is about serving society. Business is part and parcel of that. The city needs to collect money in order to execute and provide services. That is very important. The city needs to have the capacity and brain power to collect the money and the city, once it has collected this money, has got the responsibility to use this money efficiently, get value for it.”
Rags to riches
His rags to riches story is well known. Mashaba built his haircare product range from the bottom by selling it from the boot of his car. Bit by bit he created a multi-million rand organisation which has expanded into the European market.
His first job was at a Spar, where he earned R175 a month before becoming a sales rep and starting Black Like Me in 1985. He started his life in poverty. Growing up in GaRamotse, Hammanskraal, his sisters looked after him while his mother, a domestic worker, was at work.
Political analyst Daniel Silke hoped Mashaba would not let his business interests distract him.
“Mr Mashaba is going to face a number of challenges as mayor. He will have to lead the fractious politics of the council, whose members will be insecure and divided. He has to lead an unstable minority government. One would hope that he throws himself into the task and is not distracted by his business interests,” Silke said.
The DA’s national performance would to a large part rest on Mashaba’s shoulders and whether he succeeded in Johannesburg.
More than Tshwane, the success of the DA in Johannesburg, the country’s economic heartland, would influence the 2019 elections. The electorate would watch the party’s performance in these metros very closely.
“With all these factors at play Mashaba’s mayorship needs his undivided attention,” Silke said.