Soca debate: ‘We all want the same thing’

Despite political and ideological differences, City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba believes all councillors, including the opposition, are quite alike.

He spoke after the debate after his first State of the City Address (Soca) on 3 May at the new Council Chamber in Braamfontein.

“At the heart of the comments made, once you have stripped the political point scoring, are important issues facing communities all of us here represent. The truth is we are not that different. We all believe in better housing for our people, in providing services in informal settlements, fixing streets and making the city a safe place for our residents.

Read: The 10-point plan update

“I embrace the manner in which all councillors have focused on this. It is my hope that in the future we can shift the discussion on those ideas,” Mashaba said.

Councillor Nandipha Zonela from the African National Congress (ANC), however, commented that the Soca should not only show the problems the City faces, but also solutions to these problems, which she said were not evident in his address.

Councillor Meshack van Wyk from the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) congratulated Mashaba but said there still needs to be a mind shift in civil servants to put residents first. He also said that the administration should not exclude certain communities like Eldorado Park, from its plans.

From the African Independent Congress (AIC) councillor Margaret Arnolds’ scathing speech revealed that she expected the mayor to use the Soca to tell people what will be done differently and what change will come to Joburg. “And we are tired of hearing about your inheritance,” she said.

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF’s) chief whip, Silumko Mabona welcomed the Soca, commending the advancement of pro-poor projects, insourcing, the new Jozi@Work model and increased budget allocated to the Johannesburg Social Housing Company. The party’s leader in Joburg, Musa Novela, however, advised Mashaba to disregard his own capitalist views if he wants his plans to work.

Read: Opposition on Mashaba’s Soca

The ANC’s Geoffrey Makhubo again requested that evidence of corruption be brought to Council. Agreeing with Arnolds, he said the ANC also inherited a bad City, but that the party has done much to change it.

The mayor, however, maintained that the differences between political parties on local government level are insignificant. “Local government is about putting people first, on this I believe we all agree,” he said.

The budget speech, to be delivered by Finance MMC Dr Rabelani Dagada on 23 May, is the next big event on the City’s calendar.

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