Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN/VELI NHLAPO
Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN/VELI NHLAPO

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has pledged to cut out luxuries, such as international travel and other non-essential projects, to focus on real service delivery.

Mashaba vowed to hold local government officials accountable as he looks to secure money to reduce the infrastructure backlog in the city. To achieve this‚ Mashaba said his office decided to deprioritise certain expenditure and redirect the money to the poor.

"I’m going to focus on maintenance of our infrastructure. As you are aware‚ we are sitting with more than R170bn of infrastructure backlog — electricity being the biggest one; 27% of our electricity infrastructure is already under pressure.

"Today, we are a city of more than 5-million people, but the infrastructure is not really being maintained. We need to focus on electrification and provision of water in informal settlements so that our people can get dignity‚" Mashaba told TimesLIVE.

Among other projects‚ he spoke of focusing on the inner-city and working with the private sector to build affordable accommodation and better roads. Deprioritising does not mean essential services will be neglected‚ he said.

"For example, with the A Re Sebetseng project‚ what we are saying is that instead of putting too much money into Pikitup‚ can’t we get communities to assist us to clean their neighbourhoods so we can take this money [and] put it into infrastructure development?" To ensure meaningful progress, Mashaba said he would thoroughly hold officials in every department accountable.

Budget

The city’s much-contested budget was finally approved on Tuesday after opposition parties forced him to reduce it by R300m.

The EFF had refused to accept the new tariffs and rates and proposed that the increase in electricity be decreased from 7.37% to 7.17%‚ while the proposed water tariff increase be reduced from 14.2% to 13.2%. The DA accepted the changes and the budget was adopted.

Mashaba handed over four fire vehicles to the department of public safety’s emergency management in Roodepoort on Wednesday. He applauded the officers for continuously putting the lives of others first.

"The reality is‚ firefighters may not always be out and about putting out fires on a daily basis, but the mere knowledge of their presence in our midst serves as much needed re-assurance that protection is available whenever danger presents itself."