DA leader defends beleaguered Johannesburg mayor

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Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane, who led a huge crowd of members dressed in blue T-shirts on a march in support of beleaguered Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, on Thursday, said he was turning the City’s fortunes around.

Maimane said the previous African National Congress (ANC) administration wanted Mashaba, a DA member, out of his job in order to prevent past corrupt deals from being exposed.

The march came ahead of a no confidence motion to be tabled at the City Council meeting later on Thursday by the ANC against Mashaba and Speaker Vasco da Gama.

The ANC, which was in power in Johannesburg until the DA-led administration ousted it following the August 2016 local government elections, has been pushing a relentless campaign to unseat Mashaba for alleged financial mismanagement.

Mashaba has been on a drive to root out corruption and crime, and clean up the city of hijacked buildings. He has not been shy to remove tainted senior officials at key entities and review some contracts entered into by the City’s former administration.

Speaking during the march dubbed #HandsOffMashaba outside the city council offices, Maimane said that the ANC’s reasons for wanting to remove Mashaba have nothing to do with any failure on his part to do his job.

Maimane said Mashaba’s administration had inherited a city with a 10-year R170 billion infrastructure backlog, but had managed to budget R12.8 billion over the next financial year to upgrade infrastructure, build new infrastructure and repair existing infrastructure.

“In truth, it is the way in which he has started scrubbing this city administration clean that has got them so upset. His all-out war on the ANC’s legacy of corruption and looting that brought Johannesburg to the brink of bankruptcy has really shaken them badly. They are upset and embarrassed, and for that they want him gone,” Maimane said.

“Mashaba’s campaign to weed out dirty officials in this city is a disaster for the thousands of cadres who relied on the massive web of patronage and corruption. He has shone the light on the entire crime syndicate that had been masquerading as a metro government here, and they are desperate to make him go away.”

Maimane spoke after he led hundreds of marchers to the City of Johannesburg council chambers from Paul Roos Park. He was accompanied by some of the party’s provincial leaders.

There has been growing tension between the DA and one of its largest coalition partners in Johannesburg, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) whose leader Julius Malema publicly stated he regretted having voted with the DA to install Mashaba as mayor.

The motion of no confidence is thus set to be a showdown after EFF councillors declined to reveal on Wednesday whether they will support or oppose the motion, only telling both the ANC and the DA that one of them will be “crying” after the votes have been cast.

On Wednesday, da Gama said the Council was “a theatre” and all political parties will try and have their theatrics, but the relite is thathe communities were going to lose the most if the City’s administration does not go back where it was.

“I am sure that the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) appreciates some of the work that we do. I think that the EFF is clever enough to realize that removing the DA is not good for the City’s residents,”da Gama said.

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