Geoffrey Makhubo, the new Johannesburg mayor at council chambers. Pic: VELI NHLAPO
Geoffrey Makhubo, the new Johannesburg mayor at council chambers. Pic: VELI NHLAPO

Johannesburg’s new mayor, Geoff Makhubo, says he is confident that the adjustment budget of SA's richest city will be passed early in 2020.

This is the metro’s second multiparty administration in three years. Makhubo’s election comes less than two years before the next local government election.

Passing a budget is a critical hurdle for coalition governments, as the inability to do so could stall the metro’s function and result in it being put under administration.

“In February we will be passing an adjustment budget. We are not phased by the fact that we will not pass budget,” (sic) Makhubo said on Thursday, less than 24 hours after his election.

“We are confident that everyone will have a stake in that budget and that budget will go through.”

Makhubo was elected by the majority of councillors in the metro on Wednesday, bringing an end to the DA-led coalition government, which took over the reins from the ANC just more than three years ago.

The ANC will now have to lead another complicated coalition government, after some of the DA’s erstwhile partners switched allegiances in the city.

Makhubo thanked the parties who had elected him, which included the African Independent Congress, the Patriotic Alliance, Al-Jamaah and the DA's former partners IFP, the UDM and COPE.

He said the ANC would enter into a formal coalition agreement with the parties which had voted him into power. He said they were negotiating “who will lead what”, and added that Johannesburg’s government would be an “all encompassing” one.

He said the ANC was talking to both the DA and the EFF, which fielded their own mayoral candidates on Wednesday, to see how the parties could work together. He said he would announce who will make up his new mayoral council by the weekend.

“When we say we want to unify Johannesburg, we mean exactly that. The ANC is the largest party in council with 122 seats. So we have to recognise the fact that we don't have 136 to make us a majority party, so we want to work with all parties in government,” Makhubo said.

Makhubo, who is a former finance member of the mayoral committee (MMC) of the city, claimed the city’s finances were “on the verge of collapse”. 

He said Johannesburg's power utility City Power’s liabilities far exceeded its assets and that service providers to the city had not been paid on time.

“We worry that, among other challenges, the City may not be able to foot the salary bill in about three months,” Makhubo said.

Makhubo said he would be meeting the city manager, Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni, to discuss his concerns about the entities, as well as put together a turnaround plan for City Power, Joburg Water and Pikitup.

These are customer-facing entities that we think must not collapse,” Makhubo said.

Meanwhile Makhubo’s predecessor Herman Mashaba entered the fray in a biting statement on Thursday, saying that the fact that some DA councillors voted for the ANC’s candidate, demonstrated why he had to leave the party.

“The DA of today is clearly not the DA that I joined — not when they support an allegedly corrupt person. That my former coalition partners have abandoned the multiparty government, speaks clearly to the fact that I am not alone in my view,” Mashaba said.