When Herman Mashaba was campaigning to become mayor of Johannesburg, he made his way to small business owners and the hijacked buildings of the inner city. He decried the circumstances in which people lived and vowed he would fight to improve the plight of the poor. Now that Mashaba has tabled his first budget after almost a year in office, how pro-poor has he turned out to be? Johannesburg, many residents might be surprised to know given the city’s decay, is by the Treasury’s standards a well-run city with a solid financial base on which to build. It was rated fourth out of all the metros by Business Day’s municipal index, with a score of 74.7 out of a possible 100. It fell short in its management of debtors, with only 15.7% paying within 30 days, but scored well on the other four measures on the index. It spent 83% of its infrastructure conditional grants and underspent its operational budget by just more than 5%. Data for these targets was sourced from the Treasury’s Section 71 r...

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