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STATE OF THE CITY: Joburg: Makhubo talks of post-Covid city but dream lacks detail

STATE OF THE CITY: Joburg: Makhubo talks of post-Covid city but dream lacks detail

2021-05-04 04:30:00 PM

STATE OF THE CITY: Joburg: Makhubo talks of post-Covid city but dream lacks detail

In his State of the City Address on Tuesday, Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo invited residents to imagine a post-pandemic reality where life is better than before. Just months before the municipal elections, the mayor’s lofty vision was light on detail.

Makhubo described the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to transform the country’s most populated metropolitan municipality and implement initiatives that address long-standing challenges of service delivery, unemployment, housing and crime.“The world after Covid-19 will be different, as it is after any disaster. And Covid-19 will accelerate changes that have been brewing in cities for a long time. The result will be a new kind of city, different [from] what we have seen before,” he said during his State of the City Address on Tuesday.

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Makhubo, whose ANC-led coalition was elected to replace former DA mayor Herman Mashaba’s administration in December 2019, tackled some of the city’s most complex problems, such as apartheid spatial development, but emphasised a return to ANC policies rather than offering new solutions.

Speaking in the City’s Braamfontein council chambers, he took a number of jabs at Mashaba’s administration, saying the agenda to improve the quality of life for all residents had been “disrupted” when the DA mayor was elected in August 2016.“We inherited an institution not only lacking experience, but one that was riddled with governance failures, in areas of procurement, as evidenced by the challenges around fleet management. The policies of insourcing, although well intended, good intentions were peppered with maladministration and corruption threatening the stability of the institution from within and outside,” said Makhubo.

“Moreover, the city’s internal systems neared collapse, low revenue collection, financial mismanagement was high, record irregular expenditure, absence of the City on all international platforms, and demoralised local government staff among a myriad of challenges.”

Makhubo said Mashaba’s election was the first disruption on Joburg’s path to building an inclusive and transformed city, but the most significant disruption was Covid-19, with the Level 5 lockdown implemented months after Makhubo’s election exacerbating the service delivery and financial challenges he claimed to have inherited from the DA.

“The disruptions, crisis and emergencies have taught us one valuable lesson. We must build a better tomorrow for us to thrive. As we move into the second decade of our [Growth and Development Strategy], we need to ensure that our vision of the future can be realised,” said the mayor.

Makhubo listed six priorities for his administration before the local government elections on 27 October 2021: Defeat Covid-19, forge new economic pathways, entrench the transformational agenda, ensure high- impact service delivery, restore community trust in government and confront the digital divide.

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The City was in talks with Eskom about City Power taking over the energy giant’s provision of electricity in areas such as Soweto, Orange Farm and Ivory Park, which have been hit by repeated outages under Eskom’s “load reduction” programme.City Power was exploring how to build its energy-generating capacity to reduce outages.

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