Future quest

Johannesburg’s new mayor has a mission: to transform SA’s financial capital into an inclusive city where everyone can work, live and play

Returning to basics and implementing tougher by-law enforcement are two of the weapons included in the arsenal that the newly appointed City of Johannesburg executive mayor – councillor Geoff Makhubo – will deploy in his war against crime and grime in SA’s financial capital.

From ensuring that residents and businesses are billed correctly to guaranteeing that municipal workers perform what they are paid to do, Makhubo is in a race to turn the fortunes of the City of Johannesburg around so that it can become a more inclusive city of the future in which everyone works, lives and plays.

Geoff Makhubo Executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg

He says he’s bringing out the big guns by enlisting the help of the other two tiers of government – provincial and national – to transform Joburg into an investment magnet.

‘I’ve held discussions with the president and the premier, and impressed on both how Joburg could benefit from the international investment drive the country has embarked on. We want the City to become the beneficiary of that drive,’ says Makhubo.

He has also started a conversation to reassure potential investors and the City’s long-suffering residents that there are plans to mobilise R100 billion to tackle the infrastructure backlog and accelerate service delivery.

Makhubo insists he never gets into a fight he won’t win. ‘There’s no one who’ll invest in a city full of crime and grime, a city where there’s no security in the supply of power and water, no reliability of billing. So, the basics must be right.’

‘One of the priorities of this government of local unity that I’m leading is to ensure that we turn Joburg into a safer and sustainable city,’ says Makhubo. ‘This means turning Joburg into a smart city by harnessing technology to police and prevent crime, installing cameras, profiling suspect individuals in the various inner cities of Joburg – Midrand, Roodepoort, Randburg, Joburg CBD and the Lenasia CBD – launching proactive instead of reactive policing in the different wards, and deploying resources on a needs basis.’

Another arrow in Makhubo’s bow is the Joburg 10 Plus (ward-based policing) approach, where there are ‘10 bobbies on the beat’ or metro police officers patrolling a ward, in addition to urban and environment inspectors, and park wardens, among others. ‘It’s an integrated approach to ensure there’s strict by-law enforcement, there’s visible policing, and people don’t do as they please and circumvent our by-laws,’ according to the mayor.

Visible, ward-based policing is one of the tools the City of Johannesburg employs to fight crime and grime

He is enthusiastic about cutting red tape and accelerating the ease of doing business in the City of Johannesburg. ‘All over the world, cities are competing for the attention of a finite number of investors. The cities that succeed are those that have drastically cut red tape and improved the ease of doing business.

‘I was talking to a businessman at the recent SA Open golf tournament and he shared his frustrations with delays from the City of Joburg regarding a piece of city-owned land where he wants to invest R4 billion. Think about the multiplier effect of the investment,’ says Makhubo. ‘[The] Economic Development and Development Planning departments and the Mayor’s office need to work together on this. We must cut the waiting time for rezoning approval, land-use applications, [and] issuing of environmental and health certificates,’ he says.

Makhubo adds that ‘we also need to invest in the ageing infrastructure, get the private sector to match the City of Joburg’s R100 billion investment fund rand for rand, and get an engaged citizenry. Don’t wait for things to deteriorate. Raise issues and play your part to get problems resolved. This is your city too’.

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