We are in the midst of a jobs crisis. History will judge us harshly if we do not respond.
There are 869 000 unemployed residents in Johannesburg, 66 000 of whom joined the ranks of the unemployed in the first quarter of 2016.
Tomorrow’s budget presented by MMC for Finance, Geoffrey Makhubo is expected to fall short of addressing this crisis.
The growing unemployment in our city is a scar on Mayor Parks Tau’s record and conscience.
The Mayor has the privilege of leading Africa’s financial and business capital. Yet he has failed to use the power of his office to stimulate job creation.
He speaks of a ‘new economic democracy’ in Joburg, but his words mean nothing to the 869 000 unemployed residents of this city.
The Mayor’s lack of empathy for the jobless is underlined by how he spends millions on advertisements and billboards to promote himself under the guise of the State of the City Address in which he offered nothing to solve the problem of rising unemployment. We have seen similar wasteful expenditure on the advertising for tomorrow’s budget speech
Style over substance is the hallmark of Mr Tau’s leadership.
With typical fanfare, ‘Jozi@ work’ was launched in 2014. The MMC stated in his 2015 Budget Speech that, “Jozi@work will transform the lived reality of many young people by providing job opportunities that will lift them out of poverty and contribute positively to the economy of the City.”
Yet there are 81,000 more jobless people in this city than there were a year ago.
With jobs, people can buy their own homes, taking the pressure off the state to provide homes. With jobs, we have more revenue to spend on the poor. With jobs, we can create opportunities. With jobs, we can remove the main cause of the abuse of drugs like Nyaope.
If elected Mayor on 3 August, there are 5 areas my administration will focus on for purposes of stimulating job creation.
- Ensuring service with pride
As a starting point, it is essential to ensure that Joburg’s civil servants are motivated, hardworking, and understand that their work is a service to the people of this city.
We need to invest in changing the culture within the civil service in Johannesburg.
My administration will ensure that funding is set aside in the Budget to create a new vision for officials in conjunction with professionals.
This will help to ensure that civil servants are working at optimum performance in a happy environment.
Without prioritising this project, I will not be able to effectively realise my vision for this city. After all, it is the officials that will ensure the smooth running of our city, and an effective civil service will help to attract investment which in turn will stimulate job creation
By professionalising this sector we can ensure maximised outcomes so that the residents and investors in our city have confidence in the way in which it is run.
- Assist entrepreneurs in starting and growing businesses
My administration will cut red tape to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses and create jobs.
In this regard, City-owned land and buildings would be audited. Affordable commercial spaces for small businesses, artisans, and shops would be identified and leased out at the lowest available rental.
My administration would budget for the funding off Local Economic Development centres. These one-stop shops would provide information on investment opportunities, licensing, land use, planning approval procedures, regulatory compliance, investor information, and business start-up advice to drive and promote job-creating investment.
My administration would find ways to connect small businesses with service providers so as to provide budgetary expertise, assist with business plans, give advice regarding tender processes, provide compliance and legal advice, and connect small businesses that require financial advice and access to loans. This will help stimulate growth of small businesses.
- Enhance services and infrastructure delivery
As Mayor, the strategic direction of my administration’s budget would be orientated towards delivering essential services and infrastructure.
In 2011 then MMC for Finance, Parks Tau, pledged to eradicate gravel roads. Unsurprisingly, this promise was never realised.
My administration would budget for key increases in spending on major road upgrades and repairs. In 2014/15 the City of Cape Town spent R3 billion upgrading major roads. By comparison, the City of Joburg only spent R60 million. In the same year, the City of Cape Town repaired 550 000 square meters of potholes, while the City of Joburg only repaired 91 234 square metres.
The City suffered from over 300 power outages in the past month. This is an average of at least 10 outages a day.
On this point, my administration would budget for 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.
My administration would budget for the accelerated realisation of access to electricity in all informal settlements.
Tomorrow, the MMC must clearly outline the budget and timeframe for the realisation of their commitment to do so. It is essential that this project caters for all of this city’s informal settlements and I will be closely following any developments on this.
With regard to Pikitup, protracted strikes and general inefficiency is becoming the norm. We believe that Pikitup must be broken up into a number of smaller service providers in each region so as to ensure an end to its monopoly on refuse collection.
- Cut wasteful expenditure
My administration would provide a clear plan to slash wasteful expenditure.
In 2013/14 Joburg’s unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure stood at over R215 million. This soared to over R362 594 million in 2013/14. By comparison, the City of Cape Town’s wasteful expenditure stood at R339 000 in the same year.
My administration would provide a clear plan to ensure wasteful expenditure is halved within one year and eventually brought to under R1 million by the end of my first term in office.
This will help to restore trust in the Joburg administration as money is being spent wisely and honestly. In turn this will encourage investment in the local economy, which will help to stimulate job creation.
Trust will also be enhanced by opening up the tender process to public scrutiny, which will be a top priority of my administration.
In addition, as Mayor, I would pledge that every department will have a clean audit within three years.
With regard to the Expanded Public Works Programme, I would scrap the current system that fosters corruption and replace it with one that creates fair opportunities. Key to this process is the creation of an impartial EPWP jobs allocation database as has been successfully implemented in the City of Cape Town. By doing this, the EPWP can be used as a catalyst for job creation in Joburg.
- Assist job seekers in finding work
Local Government should play a more central role in helping its youth find employment, and keeping them away from crime and drugs.
I would introduce a free transport allowance for job seekers, so that they can find work and get to interviews.
Free and equipped wifi zones would also be provided for jobseekers and aspirant entrepreneurs at labour centres and in townships.
I would budget more money for programmes to assist unemployed matriculants and young people to 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.
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 challenge MMC Makhubo to tell us tomorrow how he will begin to address the jobs bloodbath that began under Mayor Parks Tau’s administration.
072 041 4842