Tag: City of Johannesburg

 

By Herman Mashaba for News24

ANC politicians that once ruled the City of Johannesburg have to count among the greatest illusionists of modern times.

This is because they successfully managed to fool millions of residents in the city into believing that, despite clear evidence witnessed daily of below par service delivery, the ANC in Johannesburg was somehow better than their counterparts around the country.

People were duped into the belief that the City worked better than others, even if it was far from perfect.

Why not, right?

After all, ratings agencies, other government agencies and the commentariat also bought into the idea.

Who can really blame residents of the city, and everyone else for that matter, when R300m was being spent in a single year on self-promoting marketing?

What was Parks Tau and company doing spending the sort of money usually spent by JSE-listed blue chip companies on marketing and advertising?

The sad thing is that this was all public money from which the same public derived little or no benefit.

You must remember the volume of billboards across the city depicting perfect services. You must surely remember the radio advertisements – it was actually a feat to miss them. You must remember the full page spreads in the papers.

All of this depicting the Utopian ‘World Class African City’ which was markedly different from the lived experience of the residents of our city.

The leadership of Parks Tau and the ANC was obsessed with this manufactured image, mostly to fulfil their status in the many international bodies where they spent their time.

Tau now travels the world as President of the United Cities and Local Government; no doubt a consolation prize for the good job he did in pulling the wool over the eyes of even the international community.

However, upon entering office, we started to gain an understanding of the full magnitude of the historical failures that lay behind the billboards, radio adverts and newspaper spreads.

We began to understand that the previous ANC regime was all style over substance. They proved that not all that glitters is gold.

Since walking into office, it has become imperative that we must work together with our residents in turning the city around. Part of this, requires the common understanding of the scale of the issues we are required to overcome.

It also requires an appreciation that residents will not always be bombarded with self-praising advertisements and that this does not mean that the DA-led government is not working.

It’s precisely because we are working that you do not always see us as much as you would like.

If we do not share this understanding, we will fail to partner as residents, business and communities to turn Johannesburg into a city of golden opportunities.

Meanwhile, a R12bn backlog in our roads has arisen from years of under-investment in our road network. Between 2013 and 2017, 3964 km of the road network (32%) fell into the condition categories poor and very poor.

A R56bn backlog in our storm water drainage exacerbates the roads problem. Water running down the roads, with nowhere to go, damages the road structure and increases potholes.

Anyone who has driven since the recent heavy rains two weeks ago will know exactly what I am alluding to. It is estimated that the city has more than 100 000 reported potholes in the road network.

Our electrical infrastructure is no better.

Over 27% of our bulk transformers now operate beyond their useful lifespan, built between 1927 and 1970.

In the instance of the inner city, it is powered by a sub-station that is over 70 years old and only one man alive today knows how to service its parts. Our electrical infrastructure backlog sits at a staggering R65bn.

Our water network can be likened to that cartoon character with their fingers and toes plugging the leaks of a ship. The 2016/17 data, which is two years old, shows that the water network inherited suffered from 45 000 leaks per year. This in a situation where we know water will be a challenge in the future.

Our housing backlog stands officially at 152 000 people on our lists, and a demand for 300 000 City produced housing opportunities.

Incidentally, the R17bn of fraud and corruption under investigation would have been enough to build houses for all of these people.

The unofficial backlog, including those in the ‘missing-middle’ of the housing market, is much, much larger. It manifests in the legacy of landlessness, illegal land occupation and frustration in our communities.

This is something I do not understand, despite wracking my brain over the issue for the last 18 months.

How could a city have been run down to this extent, allowed to deteriorate, when the link between infrastructure and economic growth is so widely accepted around the world?

We have over 900 000 unemployed people living in Johannesburg. These people were failed by successive ANC governments which failed to look to the long-term future of those they claimed to be serving and the many more that stand to join them unless something drastic is done.

I do not raise these issues to settle down into a morbid state of depression.

Our plans that we are launching are designed to institute long-term investment into these infrastructure priorities. We will achieve a level of investment into critical infrastructure which will work towards turning the picture around, and not just plugging the leaks, so to speak.

This is why I say that this is the greatest lie hidden from the residents of Johannesburg.

They were never told about the trade-offs that were made which produced these kind of backlogs. In all of those rosy public consultation meetings, our residents weren’t told government would trade future jobs in exchange for fanciful projects.

Our residents were told that international reputation and prestige would come before houses, roads, electricity and water. Our residents were not told any of these things.

The road we will begin travelling down as a City, is going to transform ours into a city of golden opportunities; a city where infrastructure works, the economy is growing and more people are being employed.

What remains critical in this process is that we embark on this journey together, knowing we have been misled, that we have a mountain to climb, but that government has the will to do it for the first time.

– Mashaba is executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg

PC distributor Mustek is assisting the City of Johannesburg (COJ) in a case where the city paid R6-million for 500 desktop computers to a service provider but the PCs were never delivered to the municipality.

In a statement, COJ mayor Herman Mashaba says he was informed that the city paid R6 million for 500 desktop computers that were ordered by the Group Information Communication Technology (GICT) department in 2014 but they were never delivered.

Opposition party the Democratic Alliance took over COJ from the ANC in August 2016. Mashaba, who took over the reins from the ANC’s Parks Tau, has publicly announced he intends to rid the city of corruption, which he blames on the previous administration.

Tip-off

According to Mashaba, the Group Forensic and Investigation Service (GFIS) received a tip-off from a member of the public who is closely linked to the service provider, saying that while she was working at the company, the city placed an order for 500 desktop computers.

It’s not clear which desktop PCs the city purchased but at retailer Incredible Connection, they range from R5 000 to R18 000. In the R6 million deal, the city paid R12 000 per computer.

Mashaba explains the computers were paid for with the assistance of officials working for the city but never reached the city.

The service provider, which is based in the south of Johannesburg, provides office supplies such as desktop computers, laptops, printer cartridges and toners, to name a few, he says.

A search and seizure operation was conducted this week by the members of the Hawks and officials from GFIS at the offices of the service provider.

Mashaba explains that about 37 computers worth R750 000 belonging to the city were seized during a joint operation.

He explains it is alleged that after winning the tender to supply the computers, the service provider placed an order with PC distributor Mustek to do the city’s imaging on the computers.

This was standard procedure, says Mashaba. “But with this batch, it is alleged that when he received it from Mustek, the service provider and his specialists in the information technology filed to remove the city’s imaging. Serial numbers of the seized computers were removed.”

In a statement sent to ITWeb, Mustek says: “In terms of Mustek’s distribution model, Mustek on-sells its products to its approved dealers, who then on-sell to end-users and public sector customers.

“Accordingly, we cannot comment on what transpired between the service provider and the City of Johannesburg. However, we are assisting the City of Johannesburg with their investigation of this matter.”

Preliminary investigations
It is alleged that most of the computers were sold to other clients and the 37 seized were used by the service provider’s staff members, Mashaba says.

He points out that preliminary investigations into the matter revealed that a city official was paid R1 million by the service provider for securing the deal for it. The city official allegedly took one official working for the service provider to a shop in the south which sells building material and spent R30 000 as a token of appreciation to the official, he adds.

“I was also informed that the service provider colludes with one of our officials who steals printer cartridges from our stores and sells them to the service provider who then sells it back to the city. When the team arrived at the property, they found one employee removing serial numbers from the boxes of the cartridges which had names of other municipalities and government departments.”

The team also established that the service provider illegally connected electricity supply to the property. City Power officials were called in and they removed the meter.

“The GFIS is currently conducting a number of investigations into contracts entered with ICT suppliers. I want to eliminate corrupt elements throughout the city, including investigating illicit deals and contracts that were secured by the previous administration and this includes our technology space,” concludes Mashaba.

By Admire Moyo for ITWeb 

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