Our colleague, Hans Kroll, attended yesterdays breakfast at the American Chamber in Johannesburg where the new mayor Herman Mashaba of Johannesburg held an impressive speech. As Hans had the great pleasure to hear the address alone so far, we did not want to keep this great future oriented speech for ourselves and therefore we are sharing this with you :
Cllr Herman Mashaba
Address to the American Chamber of Business
4 October 2016
A City of golden opportunities for investors
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to be with all of you this morning.
Thank you to the American Chamber of Commerce for extending me an invite to speak at this breakfast.
Last month I was delighted to meet with US Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard at my office. It provided the two of us with an opening to discuss current US investments in our City and for me to also expand on my vision for this City.
While it was a courtesy call, it also afforded me the opportunity recommit the City of Joburg to maintaining close ties with the US, and indeed my intention to foster stronger ties and create an environment for increased foreign investment in our City.
I was very pleased by Ambassador Gaspard’s positive outlook on South African democracy following the local government elections.
Indeed, this watershed election in which a coalition administration had to be formed in order to govern Johannesburg and a number of other metros is indicative of the strengthening of South Africa’s young democracy. Given that this was a courtesy visit by the Ambassador, I intend having a follow-up meeting in the coming months to discuss in more detail the exciting projects that already exist between City of Joburg and USA cities, which are seen as a benchmark for USA partnerships around the world, and to also discuss how these relations can be enhanced.
Today, I wish to share my vision for Joburg with all of you and discuss some of my plans to create sustainable jobs, deliver better services and combat corruption in South Africa’s commercial hub.
In doing so, I wish to start by emphasising the importance of foreign investment in growing Joburg’s economy in an effort to create permanent jobs for locals. I want to assure investors that the new administration in Johannesburg is committed to running a responsive, pro-poor and business friendly government.
Foreign investment will play a critical role in enabling our City to achieve the goals I will outline this morning. Following a four day session with MMCs, City Manager Trevor Fowler, and executives responsible for departments and municipal-owned entities, I announced a 10 point plan to kick start Johannesburg’s revival.
This 10 point plan includes the following:
1.) A recognition by all present of the political arrangement imposed by the electorate in Joburg. This is necessary to help us move forward with speed and have respect for the electorate’s wishes.
2.) Joburg must run a responsive and pro-poor government. This City can be business friendly and pro-poor at the same time. In-fact the two must go hand in hand if we wish to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and deliver better services to our residents.
3.) Plans and policies must be aligned for the City to work towards achieving a minimum of 5% economic growth. While this is an ambitious target, given that the country’s own economic growth rate is projected at 0%, we appreciate the fact that if we do not achieve this, unemployment will remain high, and our youth will still be out of school and out of jobs at the end of this term.
We want Joburg to be the engine room of South Africa economic growth. This cannot happen at the current growth rate.
We appreciate that achieving this 5 % jump requires both the government and the business sector to join hands, understanding that failing to kick start the Joburg economy has dire implications beyond Joburg’s own borders.
4.) Create a professional public service that serves Joburg residents with pride. Our residents deserve a City which serves them with the highest standards delivered by a civil service that is dedicated and proud. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the creation of a professional public service. It is, indeed, a precondition for success.
5.) Ensure that corruption is public enemy number one in Joburg. Corruption steals from the poor and must be stopped. My administration will have a zero tolerance for corruption, in both the public and private sector.
Investigations will be conducted into alleged fraud or corruption and the administration will work closely with law enforcement authorities to see to it that nobody is above the law. The days of a gentle slap on the wrist or re-deployment to another department are over. Those found guilty of corruption will go to jail and stolen money will be reclaimed. There are currently a number of investigations taking place and some important announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
6.) Complete the official housing waiting list and get it signed-off within 90 days. Unlike before, it will be publically available at government offices and to communities to ensure that it is transparent.
7.) Produce within 60 days a report on the number of completed houses built by the city and the province – but not yet allocated or handed over to beneficiaries. It is unacceptable that there are hundreds of houses that have been built but remain unoccupied when many of our residents live without acceptable accommodation.
8.) Fast track the handover of title deeds – to ordinary residents, churches and businesses.
I am also pleased to inform you that we are currently processing 2000 title deeds that will be handed over to beneficiaries, some of whom have been waiting for decades to own their own home. The handover of title deeds is a top priority of my administration, especially given the chronic legacy of a failure to do so in this City.
Having a title deed puts an asset into your name which allows you to use it as security when applying for a bank loan. This provides people with the economic opportunity to better their lives and enter the mainstream economy.
9.) Use one of our clinics as a pilot project to investigate possibilities of availing our health facilities to residents for extended hours.
I am pleased to announce that this exciting project will be launched next month.
10.) Revive the Inner City to bring people and business back into the heart of our City.It is this final point which I wish to dedicate the rest of my allotted time to. The success of this administration will be measured on our ability to achieve the revitalization of our Inner City.
Over the years, the Johannesburg Inner City has suffered from gross neglect, resulting in the flight of capital to areas such as Sandton and Rosebank. This can largely be attributed to a lack of political will in the previous administrations in our City.
This lack of political will has resulted in the degeneration of the Inner City, with crime, drugs and filth becoming commonplace. Historic buildings have been abandoned or hijacked, dirt has piled up and crime has spiralled out of control.
Previous efforts to rejuvenate the Inner City have been half hearted and ineffective. They were trumpeted to laud applause but never wielded the promised results.
The revitalisation of our Inner City is pivotal in our quest to unleash Joburg’s economic potential and realise our target of a minimum of 5% economic growth. We must create an enabling environment for small businesses to flourish and create permanent jobs.
This point is key.
It is not the role of government to create jobs, our role is to create an enabling environment for you, our investors and businessmen and woman, to establish your businesses, allow them to flourish, and in the process you will be able to create permanent jobs for our residents.
I consider the Inner City to be a jewel in the crown of the City of Johannesburg. A blemished jewel, but one that can be polished to herald a new era of economic growth, job creation and affordable accommodation in our City. A couple of weeks ago I sat down with nearly 100 investors, developers and business people, all of whom are committed to turning our Inner City into a safe, vibrant and prosperous space for people, business and other institutions. It was the largest gathering of the sort in many years and highlights their faith in the new administration’s commitment to dealing decisively with the challenges they have faced.
I was astonished to learn of the contempt with which they had been treated by the previous administration in our City. Fundamental basics of local government have let them down for years, coupled by an unresponsive government that ignored their desperate calls for assistance.
However, let me make one thing clear, it is the poor that have suffered the most as a result of the previous administration’s failure to reverse our Inner City’s decay. I was stirred to action after reading a publication called ‘Kidz Chronicle’ which included messages addressed to me. A Grade 6 learner wrote: “Sir, please with all your might, please develop the broken buildings to make schools or jobs.” Another learner wrote: “The inner city has got deep secrets. It stinks in there because toilets are not clean, there are mice and rats and there are sometimes dead bodies.” Most concerning was a learner’s exposure to people who, “inject themselves with drugs every morning when I go to school.” No one, and especially not our youth, should be exposed to such trauma. It is an utter disgrace that this has continued unabated for so long. In the past week it was widely reported that the Inner City is the most dangerous place in our City.
While acknowledging that it is the poor who have suffered the most, I wish to reiterate that our City can be business friendly and pro-poor at the same time.
A City that is business friendly attracts investors and entrepreneurs and this leads to the creation of much-needed jobs. Together, with relevant stakeholders, a plan for the revitalisation of our Inner City will be developed within the next three months. Our vision must be centred on bringing people and businesses back into our Inner City. Ultimately, benefiting our poorest residents.
This plan will be centred on three pillars: crime prevention, upgrading and maintaining infrastructure, and cleaning our streets.
The Department of Public Safety and the JMPD are currently in the process of finalising a plan which will see the enforcement of by-laws and visible policing dramatically increased in our Inner City. We will upgrade and maintain infrastructure, take action against owners of abandoned or poorly managed buildings, and encourage “ripple effect investments” that can lift an entire area. If we are to bring investors back into our Inner City, it is vital that my administration ensures that uninterrupted services such as water and electricity are provided.
We have already increased the frequency of rubbish collection and cleaning in our Inner City. We are also taking steps to reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal dumping in our Inner City. We have set out to identify buildings that can be converted into affordable social housing to accommodate workers closer to their places of work.
We are also investigating the possibilities of turning other buildings into affordable retail space to stimulate the growth of small business. The refurbishment of buildings and their conversion into homes and work spaces will afford great investment opportunities to all of you.
My administration is committed to taking action against crime, grime and urban decay to make our Inner City attractive to residents and investors alike.
We are also putting measures in place to eliminate barriers to investment and make it easy for developers and investors to work in our Inner City. On this point, I have committed to establishing a permanent investment desk in my office to deal with issues and complaints directly affecting investors, developers and businesses. Following recent engagements, I am confident that the new administration in Joburg can reverse the many years of mismanagement and decay. Our plans must be bold and ambitious. Our implementation must match that boldness. Joburg residents have waited for far too long for decent provision of services. We can’t make them wait any longer.
However, I again call on the people of Johannesburg to be patient. I have been in office for just over one month and it is going to take time to reverse decades of mismanagement, corruption and decay. No one cooks a fresh meal in a dirty pot. We first have to clean the pot in order to ensure that we implement lasting change for the better of all our residents, especially the poor.
Give us the opportunity to prove what we are able to do and how seriously we take our responsibility.
I call on all of you to walk with us on this journey to create a new Inner City.
The Inner City can become the engine room of our City’s economic growth. It can be a place of golden opportunities for all our residents.
When we achieve this we will all see that our aspiration to achieve a minimum of 5% GDP growth is not overly ambitious. With the right attitude within the new administration in our City and with business coming on board, it is very achievable.
I thank you.
Executive Mayor, Cllr Herman Mashaba
Address to the American Chamber of Business
4 October 2016