The DA can today reveal that the City of Johannesburg, under Mayor Parks Tau, has spent an aggregate amount of R13.8 million on advertising itself in newspapers between the months of April and May this year alone.
This advertising, not linked to any matters of public importance, and often bearing the face and name of the ANC Mayor, amounts to using city resources to campaign in this election.
Indeed, 65% of this money was spent on promoting city officials, such as the Mayor and Finance MMC:
- R4.7 million was spent on advertising the State of the City Address;
- R3.2 million was spent advertising the Budget Speech; and
- R1.1 million was spent advertising the Moody’s rating.
Just a few weeks ago the DA revealed exorbitant mismanagement of public money by ANC governed metros. The worst offender was the City of Johannesburg that had over R4.2 billion in unauthorised, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure in the last financial year alone.
The Auditor General also bemoaned the fact that the City had, in contravention of law, failed to investigate this money to see whether any of it could be reclaimed.
At the time I called for the City to urgently conduct this investigation. But, unsurprisingly nothing came of it. Tau’s silence on this matter has been deafening.
Tau claims to run a clean administration, yet he has overseen gross mismanagement of public money. This is yet another example.
Mr Tau’s government has deliberately broken the guidelines in order to try and gain political advantage.
In fact, this represents R13.8 million of lost opportunity to create jobs in a time of crisis for the youth of our City.
The scale of the corruption of political propaganda in Mr Tau’s administration is breath-taking. There is also a secondary consideration at play. Not only is Mr Tau plundering the City’s resources, this is an attempt to hijack democracy itself by trying to influence the will of the people at the ballot box on August 3rd.
This is a blatant example of the ANC using state funds – the peoples’ money – to advertise itself for the upcoming election under the guise of City advertising. If there was any doubt about this, the advertising has risen dramatically in the run up to the election.
It is important to understand that these figures only include newspaper advertisements. If we were to include the high number of billboards and radio adverts this excessive advertising spend would balloon even further.
We still see a number of billboards around this city for events that took place over a month ago, most notably the City’s Budget Speech. A clear example is the huge billboard on the N1 southbound, R562 on ramp, advertising the Budget Speech which took place on 24 May, 2016.
The Government Communications Policy Guidelines policy document explicitly prohibits excessive advertising, and it clear that the City is contravention of this provision.
Section 3.3.4 on non-permissible advertising reads:
Departments should avoid misuse of public funds for advertising campaigns. Public funds should not be used for departmental advertising where:
- a) The method or medium of advertising is excessive or extravagant in relation to the objective being pursued;
- b) A reasonable person could interpret the message as promoting a political party, or communicating on behalf of a political party;
- g) Members of the department are depicted in a manner that a reasonable person would regard as excessive of gratuitous;
- h) The advertising creates a perception that a campaign promotes an individual, like a minister
My colleague, James Selfe MP, has today announced his Private Members Bill for Free and Fair Elections. This Bill proposes that
(1)All organs of state have a duty to promote free and fair elections, and no organ of state may use or abuse public resources to promote or advance the interests of any party or parties, or to disadvantage any party or parties.
(2)No organ of state may publish or cause to be published, any advertisement during any election period: provided that this shall not apply to
(a) Advertisements calling for nominations for any statutory body;
(b) Advertisements pertaining to the recruitment of staff;
(c) Advertisements for the procurement of goods and services, or the invitation to submit tenders;
(d) Advertisements relating to emergency measures;
(e) Advertisements inviting comment on proposed legislation or public policy; and
(f) Legal notices.
This would effectively prohibit advertising during an election period, outside of these examples, and thereby prevent the sort of abuse being witnessed in the City of Johannesburg.
My commitment to the people of Johannesburg is that I will never use their money in this abusive way, if I am elected as your mayor.
Money should be spent on ensuring that jobs are created, and better services are delivered. This will be my priority.
Parks Tau’s refusal to put the people first shows again just how much the ANC has changed. It is time to vote for change that stops this wasteful expenditure, and puts the people of Johannesburg first again.
DA Mayoral Candidate for Johannesburg