Joburg Advocacy Group (JAG): Fiddling While Joburg Burns

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Fiddling While Joburg Burns


We've all heard the story of how the despot emperor Nero "fiddled while Rome burned". Recent reports on the crisis of governance in the City of Johannesburg cannot help but bring this story to mind.

This past weekend alone, Mail and Guardian reported that the city has an operational deficit of R520 million, that it has had to divert R1 billion from the city's already over-stretched budget into the completion of the Soccer City stadium because of ballooning costs, and that it has failed to collect an estimated R10 billion in unpaid municipal accounts (read the whole story here).

DA councillor and finance committee member Don Forbes is quoted as saying that the city is "commercially insolvent", as its liabilities exceed its assets.

Worse still ...

Yesterday, The Times reported that, despite this parlous situation, and despite the fact that the city has written off R2.8 billion in debt this year (10% of its 2009/2010 budget), Mayor Amos Masondo has just "led a 16-member delegation on a costly four-day trip to four countries (India, Vietnam, China and Russia, if you can believe it) ... as part of a 'study tour' aimed at bolstering 'service delivery' ". This is reportedly one of many such trips taken by members of the mayoral committee in the past six months (read the whole story here).

We would like to suggest that the mayor GETS REAL and leads a delegation around his own distressed and decaying city. Instead of listening to "experts" in far-flung countries, we suggest that he takes the trouble to listen to the people he is elected and paid to serve. No-one knows the issues better than they do or has a better idea of what is needed to fix the many problems that affect their everyday lives.

We would also like to suggest that President Jacob Zuma GETS REAL and intervenes directly in this situation. Joburg is the country's economic hub and the face South Africa presents to the international investment community. More importantly, millions of people live within the boundaries of the metro, and it simply cannot be allowed to slide into chaos.

Unfortunately, several letters that Joburg Advocacy Group has sent to Mayor Amos Masondo begging him to take action on governance in the city have simply been ignored. A letter sent to the President asking for the same was acknowledged, but then forwarded to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs where, needless to say, it has disappeared into a black hole.

We need the people of the city to take action and to start making their voices heard on this issue. It's only together that we can turn this situation around - and every voice counts.

Please e-mail President Zuma on President@po.gov.za, and ask him to intervene in the crisis of governance in the City of Johannesburg as a matter of urgency. Cut and paste the following text if you'd like to use it:

Dear President Zuma,
JOBURG NEEDS YOU, MR PRESIDENT

As a resident of the City of Johannesburg, I am deeply concerned about the crisis of governance in the city. Daily reports in the newspapers show that it is widespread, and neither the Mayor nor the Premier of Gauteng are responding to calls by the community to address the situation.

I support the campaign being run by the Joburg Advocacy Group (http://jag-sa.blogspot.com/) to call for your urgent assistance.

Johannesburg is the country's economic hub and the face it presents to the international investment community. More importantly, millions of people live within the boundaries of the metro, and it simply cannot be allowed to slide into chaos.

We need your direct intervention, Mr President. Please step up to the plate!

Thank you and kind regards,
[Insert your name]

Do it, folks - DO IT NOW! And join our Facebook Group to become part of the discussion about good governance in the City of Johannesburg.

2 comments:

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LC said...

Thanks for your positive feedback - much appreciated! The group is no longer active, but we hope the information we've managed to post on the site or make available in various documents (links to archives supplied in the sidebar) is of help to residents in the City of Joburg - and perhaps also to people living in other municipalities.

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