City of Joburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo delivered his last state of the city address on Tuesday. PHOTO: Eddie Mtsweni

CITY of JOBURG will focus on six priorities before the current administration’s term comes to an end in October, executive mayor Geoff Makhubo said.

Makhubo was speaking on Tuesday during the State of the City Address in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

He said top of his priority list was mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by working together with residents, councillors and opposition parties.

In response to COVID, the City of Johannesburg recently announced that it was in the process of reviewing its rates rebates and municipal service charges as part of the expanded social package (ESP) programme to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on ratepayers.

The City of Joburg, through Council, has also approved a Debt Rehabilitation Programme that includes additional relief measures for ratepayers amid the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic.

The new programme includes an increase in the qualifying property value from R600 000 to R1.5 million following calls from residents for the City to review the terms and conditions of the initial relief programme, which was first launched in 2019.

The improved relief programme will see qualifying ratepayers receive immediate relief through a 50% debt write off.

We must acknowledge what Covid-19 has revealed about the city’s realities but we must build the agility, adaptability, learning based systems that capture lessons learnt so that we are better prepared for any forms of disruption,” said Makhubo.

City of Joburg officers outside the city council. PHOTO: Eddie Mtsweni.

The city’s other priorities includes the transformation of the city’s economy, spatial restructuring, and what the city has dubbed high-impact service delivery. 

He said hat the economic response actions to mitigate the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 shock on the businesses and residents of the City are the immediate priority.

“As many businesses and jobs as possible need to be protected and secured and support provided to the worst affected,” said Makhubo.

“The focus must then shift to supporting and facilitating recovery of Johannesburg’s economy as public health containment measures are eased.  The City economy will need to adjust to a world economy changed by the pandemic to remain and become competitive. The growing size and importance of our City make it arguably the single most important entity to foster sustainable economic production as opposed to merely being consumption driven. Cities are often a better spatial unit by which to conceive of such activities given the diverse nature of cities since their management can be more responsive to urgent problems. One such approach is the through the Township Economy.”

Council sitting:
City of Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo delivering the municipality’s State of the City Address. PHOTO: Eddie Mtsweni

He said the City will also ensure that vibrant and sustainable township enterprises as part of building an inclusive, labour absorbing and growing economy are created.

“The township economy provides an economic pathway that establishes the social and economic value of townships and ensures that the township enterprises become key players in the City economy,” said the mayor.

Makhubo said that despite the challenging institutional and macro- economic environment due to the pandemic, the City managed to collect 86.3% of the revenue, against an adjusted Covid-19 risk target of 88% for the 2019/20 financial year, as well as acquired a surplus of R3.7 billion for 2019/20 FY.

Encouragingly, he announced, the City still collected more revenue by 6%.

Furthermore, the City’s Financial Position is in a solid standing, with total assets increasing by 5%.

The City has remained focused on continuously strengthening its financial position whilst actively pursuing the achievement of its service delivery goals, he said.

During his address, Makhubo also committed that his administration will continue fighting land invasions and building hijackings which have troubled the city for many years.

He said his administration’s approach is to prevent, to contain and to reverse unlawful occupation of land.

This will include a comprehensive wider and pro-active approach to unlawful occupation of land and buildings.

“We will also work with the National government to strengthen our efforts in this regard,” said Makhubo.

“Unlawful occupation of land is largely caused by jumping the queue of housing allocation, the criminal act of selling of land and the encouragement of unlawful land occupation for political and financial gain. We therefore must urgently deal with the scourge of land invasions, including building hijackings, within the prescripts of our legal and policy framework.”

Mayor Geoff Makhubo during the state of the city address. PHOTO: Eddie Mtsweni
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