Johannesburg - The City of Joburg's new DA-led government is saddled with an inappropriate budget it inherited from the previous ANC-led administration.

So said Mayor Herman Mashaba delivering his 100-day speech.

“I am in the unfortunate position of inheriting a budget and an integrated development plan (IDP) that was passed just two months before voters demanded change.

As a result, our administration has to operate off a budget and IDP that represents the kind of ‘business as usual’ that voters rejected in the elections and we have to operate with this for the remaining ten months of the financial year.

As a new administration, we cannot make amendments to the budget until the end of February 2017 when the auditor general permits adjustments to our budget, providing they are not substantial,” he said.

He said within that budget were hundreds of millions of rands committed to vanity projects.

“What they did not tell you on those radio adverts and billboards, is that long-term neglect has produced a 10-year, R170 billion funding gap on capital infrastructure,” he said.

Under the previous administration, the city:

* Stands at 42% of the debt to revenue ratio that National Treasury limits to 45% as a debt ceiling;

* Has 881 000 unemployed people – with an unemployment rate over 30%;

* Has seen 190 000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed;

* Has a stagnant economy, with growth of around 2%;

* Has a housing backlog of over 300 000 and an average delivery of only 3500 housing units being constructed per year; and

* Is home to over 180 informal settlements, with more than half of these with no basic services at all.

Since taking office, said Mashaba, the DA has been inundated daily with cases of corruption, nepotism and fraud.

“It has gotten to the point where we could not investigate as quickly as the cases were rolling in,” he said.

Another of his concerns is that the previous administration allowed the inner city to be taken over by criminal elements, drug dealers and slum lords.

“We have over 115 000 people illegally occupying buildings in our inner city, most of who are living in the most appalling conditions,” he said.

The previous administration was obsessed with the city’s international image.

“This city spent hundreds of millions of rands promoting an artificial image of the city that not even their strongest supporters actually believed,” he said.

Some R153 million was spent in two years on self-promoting advertising and R193 million spent in three years on travel.

“These are the symptoms of an administration that was out of touch with the needs of its own people. It would merrily spend R340 million on a new state of the art council chamber when it could not electrify informal settlements, issue title deeds, or lift a finger to combat the rampant drug trade in our city,” he said.

Investors and developers with millions invested in the city are dedicated and passionate - they just need a government who can clean up the city and get the basics right, he said.

With only R10 billion set aside annually for capital expenditure, and a R170 billing funding gap for capital infrastructure over the next 10 years, the city is going to have to work with the private sector.

“The private sector can easily pour R20 billion each year into our inner City and turn it into a construction site within a matter of months. We need to create quality low cost housing for our people and rental space for small business and entrepreneurs to flourish,” he said.

Under the new administration, Mashaba promised:

* Council will vote at the next council meeting on an amendment to the supply chain management policy that will start the very first open tender system;

* Initiate a process of reviewing this policy with the intention of ensuring tenders are broken down into smaller parts in order for small businesses to benefit;

* In revenue, by the end of December, the city will have concluded a diagnostic exercise focusing on the four elements of the billing system;

* The city will regard inner city rejuvenation as a key priority;

* The city has already doubled the cleaning shifts of Pikitup in the inner city including a night shift to serve the businesses operating at night;

* JMPD have invested a massive presence in the inner city to manage traffic flows, enforce by-laws and provide visible policing;

* A team of human rights lawyers will be assembled to assist the city to reclaim the inner city from slum-lords;

* The city will provide the support small and medium sized businesses need to expand into larger businesses that employ people;

* As of 21 November, the city has established seven SME hubs throughout the city and since 25 August, the city has proved supported to 2 895 SMEs. The plans are to expand this to 12 hubs over the next year;

* An investment fast-track team is being established;

* The city has initiated a review of all by-laws in the city, with a focus on those by-laws that are involved in the decision making processes pertaining to economic development;

* The city will expand the rollout of its free Wifi network;

* The city is re-positioning Joburg’s image as a tourism destination;

@annacox

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The Star