For the first time last week, Johannesburg residents were addressed by a DA mayor on the state of their city when Herman Mashaba gave his inaugural speech. Johannesburg is governed by a heavily contested coalition and Mashaba’s administration is in untested waters. It is vital to watch how this will play out in the lives of the city’s residents, especially the poor. Two discernible themes emerged from the address. Mashaba speaks to pro-poor and pro-private investment measures as parallel, delinked strategies. And despite disavowing "silver bullets", he sets out quick fixes to Johannesburg’s problems. There are some welcome suggestions among his pro-poor interventions — the long-awaited electrification of informal settlements and the financial boost to create more affordable housing in the inner city. It is crucial, however, that this plan focuses on affordable rental accommodation for the 50% of the inner-city population who earn less than R3,200 a month. But, largely, Mashaba’s con...

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