The City of Johannesburg has completed the recruitment of 1 500 additional metro police officers, mayor Herman Mashaba said. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA Pictures

JOHANNESBURG - The DA and City of Joburg have rejected a Sunday newspaper report that the DA-led City of Johannesburg is in financial trouble, with the city saying it would lay a complaint against the publication.

The DA has noted a report in the City Press that the city is "cash-strapped" and "heading for a bailout", and rejects the allegations as false and a misrepresentation of the city’s finances, DA spokesperson Refiloe Nt’sekhe said.

The new DA-led administration had worked tirelessly to stabilise finances and this intervention was already yielding positive results. Thanks to the city’s revenue collection drive, Operation Buya Mthetho, May was one of the highest revenue collection months in the city’s history. This could be directly attributed to a team of highly skilled professionals in the city, who were putting the interests of residents first as part of a fruitful turnaround plan, Nt’sekhe said.

"Our ongoing fight to reverse the damage done to the city’s finances by previous ANC administrations has been well-documented. Since taking over the [city] after our 2016 local government election victory, the DA-led administration has committed itself to ensuring efficient service delivery for all citizens of Johannesburg, especially the poor.

"The previous ANC administration’s corruption has robbed the poor of not only quality service delivery, but much-needed jobs as well. The DA’s determination to address the consequences of this corruption is evidenced by our pursuit of 3500 graft cases in the city," Nt’sekhe further added.

The City Press report appeared to be critical of the money the city spent on forensic investigations into corruption in the city administration. 

This was, however, exactly what was required to ensure that corruption never reared its head again in the city, as it was the reason for the country’s skyrocketing unemployment rate – currently at 9.5 million people.

"Despite the money lost to ANC corruption, the city still has a balance of R3.279 billion and this will be carefully managed as we continue to provide quality services. Furthermore, we will attract much-needed investment to improve the city in order to create more jobs for residents and maintain Johannesburg’s reputation as one of Africa’s economic powerhouses. The City of Johannesburg will continue to prioritise its citizens through efficient service delivery and a pro-poor agenda that will lift its people out of poverty," Nt’sekhe said.

Adding to this was mayor Herman Mashaba, who expressed "disappointment and surprise" over what he deemed an "unsubstantiated report".

"The article makes a number of incorrect claims which only serve to manufacture panic regarding the city’s financial position.

"Worst still, these inaccuracies were specifically addressed with City Press prior to the publication of the article. However, the publication has inexplicably elected to spread these claims.I would like to reassure our residents that the city faces no financial distress nor is the city in need of a bailout."

The city’s cash management report, as required by section 71 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), which had been approved by the mayoral committee and was on its way to council, clearly stipulated that the city’s cash remained in a healthy state at over R3.2 billion.

Mashaba further said City Press had "deliberately sought to misrepresent this as R1.2 billion in order to forward their chosen narrative". 

Furthermore, the city continued to meet its salary commitments. At no point had there been any risk of the city not being able to do so, either presently or in the future. 

This too was addressed with the publication.

"In omitting this from their reporting, the publication has acted irresponsibly and created unnecessary panic among city employees. Our multi-party coalition government makes no apology for seeking to reverse the legacy of corruption left by the ANC.

"Over the years, there has been significant mismanagement of the city’s finances by past administrations. These inefficiencies have weighted heavily on the financial health of the city. This is the history of mismanagement which our administration has been seized with reversing," Mashaba said.

"City Press’s chosen headline is grossly misleading and irresponsible [and] I believe that it falls short of this standard and represents a violation of the Press Code.

"As such, the city will be laying a complaint with the Press Ombudsman regarding this."

 African News Agency (ANA) and IOL