Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga has not promoted career politicians or politically influential people to fill his Mayco, but rather those who are in touch with the realities, writes Matthew Gerstner.
The mayor of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga, described his new mayoral committee as the most diverse the capital has ever seen and the back stories of the individual members show that this is very much true. Not only is the new Mayco (Mayoral Committee) team diverse among race, gender and culture, it is also diverse in talents, experience and education.
That the Mayco includes teachers, lawyers, businesspeople, a chemist, a nurse, a former military man, a municipal finance academic and community activists, shows the real diversity of Msimanga’s government. It should be encouraging to residents that he has chosen ordinary citizens of the capital who understand and experience the challenges of life in Tshwane to fill the Mayoral Committee. The mayor himself is a child of Atteridgeville, who grew up in a shack, and walked barefoot to school.
The new Mayco is committed to hit the ground running, to start delivering to create jobs, and root out the corruption so ingrained in the City - which is an important step in the right direction. Naturally taking over all of the levers of power in an enormous metropolitan government will take time and we have to get over some hurdles. The new team will have to start out assessing the scale and depth of problems to uncover much of what needs to be changed by this new government.
But there is no time to waste. The City needs leadership that can address multiple crises at once. The undrinkable water in Hammanskraal, the provision of electricity in Mamelodi and the shortage of RDP houses in Soshanguve require hard work to fix. Uncovering the corruption that has taken place and stopping financial irregularities needs to happen urgently.
The people of Tshwane expect delivery and not empty promises.
The questions about the timing of the Mayor’s announcement of his Mayco, and a false premature Mayco list which was leaked, were put firmly to bed by Msimanga when he announced the actual committee, and revealed who will truly lead the city.
To oversee housing in Tshwane is MMC Mandla Nkomo who has been a community activist for better living conditions for many years and has been working on a plan for improving all informal settlements in Tshwane, formalising them, opening up new land opportunities, and handing over title deeds to thousands who are waiting.
The Leader of Tshwane’s executive business, Randal Williams, is the MMC for Economic Development and has served as a chief director in national government in the Department of Trade and Industry. He is a lawyer and now has an enormous task to attract investment into Tshwane to grow the economy and create jobs.
With the examples of both Nkomo and Williams, Msimanga has not promoted career politicians or politically influential people to fill his Mayco, but rather those who are in touch with the realities.
This will be a big shift for the capital, which now has a Mayco of politicians working for the people, and not working to advance their careers and interests.
This is why Msimanga and his Mayco have ditched the blue lights of the previous administration and will travel around Tshwane as ordinary citizens would; they will wait in traffic and will stop at red lights. Residents don’t need to fear Tshwane City offcials racing to push them off the road any longer.
By placing an immediate moratorium on international travel for politicians and officials, where any critical requests must be assessed by the full Mayoral Committee on a cost-benefit analysis and only in exceptional circumstances, along with stopping all inaugural parties and functions and stopping catered dinners and lunches, the new mayor is making choices to save residents’ money. This prudence will build up the funds needed to improve service delivery.
Under this new Metro government getting Tshwane's finances right will be the key to start reversing the rot of corruption. The new highly-qualified Finance MMC Mare-Mise Fourie served as chief financial officer of Tshwane in years past, spearheading fiscal control. It’s a solid choice by the mayor to bring in an expert who has experience in the Metro’s Finance Department, is a municipal finance academic, and authored parts of the Municipal Finance Management Act herself.
The mayor will soon announce investigations into the City's finances and the skills and competencies of senior officials.
The team around the mayor can and must start delivering on promises, but already Tshwane has seen increasing disruptions to delivery, with attempts to undermine the new mayor and pure dirty politics in electricity and water sabotage, land grabs and occupying RDP houses before they’re officially handed over.
Instead the City must pull together, and do what is necessary to turn this ship around. The election has come and gone, and now the new government must deliver comprehensively. It’s a journey that Tshwane is on and an unstoppable path to making it the capital of delivery and quality of life.
Through this diverse, energetic new leadership the capital can look forward to real change.
* Gerstner is acting spokesman for the Mayor of Tshwane.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.