Tau must break silence on Joburg joblessness

Note to editors: The following is an extract from a speech delivered by the Democratic Alliance’s Johannesburg Mayoral Candidate, Herman Mashaba, during the march to Mayor Parks Tau’s office in Johannesburg.

Today we marched to Mayor Parks Tau’s office because the pleas of Johannesburg’s jobless has fallen on deaf ears.

We’re marching in solidarity with the 869 000 unemployed residents of this city who woke up today without a job. 66 000 of whom joined the ranks of the unemployed during the first quarter of this year.

We’re marching because we want Parks Tau to break his silence on the joblessness of Joburg.

Style over substance is the hallmark of Mr Tau’s leadership. He spends millions on advertisements and billboards to promote himself but offers nothing to solve the problem of rising unemployment.

During his State of the City Address last month, Tau mentioned ‘jobs’ once and failed to even mention the word ‘unemployment’.

Unemployment is a scar on Tau’s record; His silence on the jobs crisis is deafening.

Tau must be held to account. He has failed to use the power of his office to stimulate job creation.

Businesses are saying that they don’t have confidence in our country. Just yesterday it was announced that South Africa’s business confidence index had hit a new record low.

When I am elected mayor on 3 August, I will make job creation my number one priority.

As an entrepreneur I know what it takes to run a successful business and these are the skills I will use to grow Joburg’s economy and create jobs.

With jobs, people can buy their own homes. With jobs, we have more revenue to spend on the poor. With jobs, opportunities are created. With jobs, people have their dignity restored.

As Mayor, I will focus on six measures to create thousands of new jobs in my first term of office:

  1.    Professionalising the public service

To create thousands of new jobs, Johannesburg needs to be run like a world-class city.

My starting point as mayor will be to professionalise the public service, and to hire only the best new recruits. Every public servant will understand how his or her role relates to job creation – the overarching priority of my administration.

  1.    Investing in infrastructure

To attract investment and create jobs, I will invest heavily in infrastructure.

In 2014/15 the City of Cape Town spent R3 billion upgrading major roads. By comparison, the City of Joburg only spent R60 million. That is why unemployment in Cape Town stands at 21.7% compared to Johannesburg, which stands at 31.1%.

  1.    Enabling entrepreneurs to succeed

When I started my hair care business in 1985, I did it with a R30 000 loan. And over the last 30 years I employed thousands of people. I am living proof that entrepreneurs create jobs.

As Mayor of Johannesburg, I want to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to start new businesses that help grow the city economy and create jobs.

Support will be provided by removing the red tape that prevents young entrepreneurs from getting their businesses off the ground; subsidising the leasing of commercial spaces; and establishing Innovation Centres that provide information on investment opportunities, licensing, land use, planning approval procedures, regulatory compliance, investor information, and business start-up advice.

Importantly, I will carve up large tenders and prioritise small businesses in City procurement. In doing so, I will ensure that Johannesburg’s Black Economic Empowerment programme is truly broad-based.

  1.    Cutting corruption and wasteful expenditure

Businesses won’t invest in cities where corruption is widespread or where money is mismanaged. As a result, we are missing opportunities to create jobs in Joburg.

The ANC administration in Johannesburg, under Tau’s leadership, has incurred R5.3 billion in unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure since coming into office in 2011. Over R4 billion of this was incurred last year alone.

This disgraceful misuse of public money by Mayor Tau’s administration has had a devastating impact on the lives of the people of this City.

I will adopt a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to officials found to have wasted money, spent money irregularly or taken bribes. One strike and you’re out.

I will also open up the tender processes so that there is maximum transparency.

  1.    Expanding employment opportunities 

Local government should play a more central role in helping its youth find employment, and keeping them away from crime and drugs.

I will introduce a free transport allowance for job seekers, so that they can find work and get to interviews.

I will budget more money for programmes to assist unemployed matriculants and young people find jobs.

In 2015/16, the DA run City of Cape Town spent R71 million for this purpose, while the City of Joburg spent only R21 million.

  1.    Delivering basic services for all

As Mayor, the strategic direction of my administration’s budget would be orientated towards delivering essential services and infrastructure.

The City suffered from over 300 power outages in the past month. This is an average of at least 10 outages a day.

My administration will immediately budget for the employment of additional technicians and an artisan programme within City Power to train electricians and essential staff. The current allocation of two technicians per region, per shift is simply unsustainable.

An estimated R850 million worth of water was lost due to leaks in 2015. As mayor, I will increase the budget for maintenance work and introduce an artisan programme to train technicians and essential staff to ensure rapid response times to leaks.

Protracted strikes and general inefficiency is becoming the norm at Pikitup. I will break up Pikitup into a number of smaller service providers in each region so as to ensure an end to its monopoly on refuse collection and keeping our city clean.

Decisive action is required to stop the rot in Johannesburg.

If elected, my administration would act fast to implement changes such as those highlighted above.

Changes that are focused on doing what is right by the hundreds of thousands of Johannesburg’s residents who simply look for the dignity of a good day’s work.

We cannot allow the economic decay of Johannesburg at the hands of ANC mismanagement to continue.

For far too long Tau has promised to create opportunities and jobs for the people of Johannesburg.

His delusion of a “new economic democracy” for Johannesburg means nothing to the 869 000 unemployed residents of this City.

The truth is, Mayor Tau puts his cronies first and you last.

The DA is ready to bring change to Johannesburg; change that stops corruption, delivers better services and creates jobs.

Together we can revive the economy of this great city and stimulate job creation.

Together we can turn Johannesburg into a city of golden opportunities.