The Democratic Alliance (DA) Joburg caucus concluded a three-day strategic conference this past weekend where members reflected on the party’s achievements and what needed to be achieved going forward.
The DA-led coalition government took office after the 2016 municipal elections. Although not an official coalition partner, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) agreed to vote with the party.
Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba, who is also the caucus leader of the DA in Joburg, said success had been achieved in the past two years.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” he said, referring to delivered title deeds, social housing, residential electrification, and the provision of water to households.
“The safety of our residents is of utmost concern. I have always maintained that we must reach a level where criminals live in fear, not residents. To this end, we have recruited 1 500 new JMPD officers and launched a special K9 Narcotics Unit to fight the scourge of drugs and keep communities safe.”
Going forward, the inner-city revitalisation was marked as of utmost importance. “In light of this commitment, the City has freed up land for pro-poor developments. This includes 71 properties of 119 erven in areas including the inner city, Yeoville, and Jeppestown.”
He added that in addition, long-term leases were given to the private sector to provide low-income individuals and families with access to affordable quality housing, student accommodation, and business spaces.
“Furthermore, through Operation Buya Mthetho we are bringing back the rule of law. R580 million has been brought in the 2017/18 financial year back to the City. Additionally, more arrests have been made in this time than any other four-year period preceding the coalition government,” Mashaba said.
The money brought back, as the mayor said, is from operations targeting residents and companies alike who either illegally connect to services or simply do not pay.
Through the Diphetogo Project, Mashaba said the City had embarked on refurbishment, repairs, and maintenance projects.
“Much more is to come with significant investment underway in the current financial year to ensure smooth supply of water and electricity, provision of grass cutting, increase in public lighting, and opportunities for jobseekers through the rollout of opportunity centres.”.
The DA has, however, been under scrutiny from opposition parties for an alleged financial crisis, which the mayor has denied. The African National Congress (ANC) has also made allegations that the mayor was on a witch-hunt of former managers in the City under the ANC’s leadership since he took office in 2016. This, also, was denied.
The ANC’s spokesperson, Jolidee Matongo, had previously said, “The legacy of 300 years of colonial rule and 48 years of apartheid’s under-investment in black areas will take longer than Mashaba can comprehend to eradicate”.
He responded to Mashaba’s claims that the ANC had neglected Joburg’s infrastructure and said during the party’s term of office, they had actively tried to combat the infrastructure backlog through assessments and investments annually.