Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN/SUNDAY WORLD
Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN/SUNDAY WORLD

During the public opening of the new R360m Council Chamber a few weeks ago‚ Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba described his administration as "unapologetically pro-poor" and pledged a new direction to address the needs of the city’s under-served — allocating the bulk of the growing budget to this sector.

On Wednesday, in his first state of the city address‚ Mashaba said voters had given him a mandate to break from the ways of the past to address the troubles Johannesburg faces: "We can no longer conduct business as usual‚ it is now time for business unusual."

Mashaba announced plans to increase funding for housing‚ lengthen hours at clinics across the city, and root out corruption that creates wasteful spending. The main way he hopes to fund these projects is increasing the growth rate in Johannesburg to 5% in 2021 from the current projected 1.6%.

"It is an ambitious target but it is what we require to bring this city’s unemployment down‚" he said. "We want Johannesburg to be the engine room of SA’s economic growth."

While the new budget plan is not expected until later this month‚ Mashaba said a minimum of 60% of the capital expenditure will be directed towards projects in traditionally under-served communities. Other concrete steps include electrification of the informal settlements Finetown and Meriting, and finding a service provider to supply the city’s poor with free basic services.

Mashaba also touted improved revenue collection under his administration‚ noting that March of this year was the first time the city had collected more than R3bn, and that the local government expects to reach the R4bn mark in July this year.

TMG Digital

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