Political charade tearing down Joburg’s economy

The politically unpleasant public spectacle at the Joburg council is nothing short of a circus performance by clowns, which has turned the serious business of efficient local governance into a charade.

All of this takes place in a city that is described as the country’s foremost economic hub and economic powerhouse, which generates nearly 20% of the country’s gross domestic product through manufacturing, retail and service industry sectors.

The City of Johannesburg accounts for approximately 40% of Gauteng’s economic activity. Yet, the metro has lost the ability to govern itself efficiently; it has become a shaded city that requires re-imagining if it is to return to its former glory as the City of Gold – attractive to investors.

Many years of incompetence and corruption have turned the city into a pigsty, and a den of iniquity, which has become a breeding place for crime, which impacts negatively on economic development.

To reverse the rot, no effort should be spared to clean up the city. The city fathers and matriarchs must restore order in the City of Gold – return hijacked buildings to the rightful owners and commit to revamping the sagging economy.

This will require political will if pressing difficulties and service delivery backlogs are to be resolved. But what can the current mayor do to instil confidence?

The reality we face today is that executive mayor Kabelo Gwamanda of Al Jam-ah is gradually being projected as a controversial figure, hogging scandals of all kinds, including allegations of fraud and misrepresentation of qualifications.

This week news emanating from the council suggested that he is fighting for political survival. He has been fingered as lacking in moral standing to preside over the affairs of the metro.

Also troubling is that this week in his state of the city address to the council, Gwamanda is said to have taken ill before he could conclude his speech and had to be rushed to hospital. Word has it that this has to do with the inability to absorb the pressure related to his position.

This week, ActionSA filed a motion of no confidence in his leadership, claiming that Gwamanda has no capacity to run and direct the management of a budget of R70-billion allocated to the city.

Have we not seen this movie before? Recently, former Tshwane mayor Murunwa Makwarela was charged with two counts of fraud and was forced to resign as a mayor in disgrace.

The residents of Johannesburg must be wondering what lies ahead with all the flip-flops taking the centre stage in the people’s chambers. Gwamanda, without any shadow of doubt, lacks the credibility that goes with the position, if we take at face value all the allegations of impropriety levelled against him.

Secondly, we must wonder what the political motive for his elevation to the position of mayor was. His party commands a minuscule 1% presence in the council.

The national and provincial governments are constitutionally empowered to stop the rot. We say, the national and provincial governments must crack the whip. Now!

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