By Zukile Majova
Poor management in the City of Johannesburg has seen the city owing over R6 billion to service providers, suppliers and small businesses.
This is largely because of political instability in the city which is now on its fifth mayor in less than 10 months.
The DA’s Dr Mpho Phalatse was replaced by the ANC’s Dada Morero last September. Morero was removed by a high court order a month later and replaced by Dr Phalatse, who was replaced by Al Jama-ah councillor Thaphelo Amad in January 2023.
New mayor Kabelo Gwamanda has been in office for one month.
During the delivery of his maiden State of the City Address, Gwamanda said this chopping and changing of mayors has had dire consequences for the city’s finances.
“What we now know as fact is that the city’s finances remain strained following the tabling of a conceptually flawed budget by the multiparty (DA) government.
“We also know that by the end of June 2021 the government of local unity’s (ANC-led coalition) audited finances reflected a city with a cash balance of R6.6 billion.
“However upon our return in January 2023, when we took over from the multiparty coalition, we found a near bankrupt government sitting with over R6 billion in unpaid supplier invoices,” said Gwamanda.
He confirmed that the ANC-coalition is running the city on short-term loans made to eradicate the supplier payments backlog.
Gwamanda said their assessment was that the city, which has a R90 billion annual budget, was operating on a performance level of 66%.
To fight the current power crisis, Gwamanda said they have instructed City Power to extend its power purchase agreement with Kelvin power station by another three years, ending in October 2026.
“The city currently purchases 87% of its power from Eskom and Kelvin supports us with the balance of 13%,” he said.
The city remains plagued with numerous problems including a high rate of crime and poor water and sanitation services in informal settlements in the face of a cholera outbreak that has already killed 26 people in Gauteng.
To create jobs for the young and fight crime, the city is getting 2,000 police wardens to work with the Metro Police and the SAPS in crime prevention.
Political parties are due to debate Gwamanda’s address on Wednesday.
Pictured above: JHB mayor Kabelo Gwamanda addresses council
Picture credit: Twitter