Joburg city centre will be a construction site in 12 months: Mayor Mashaba

Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba says he will focus on regenerating the inner city in order to create and boost employment in South Africa’s economic hub.

Mashaba has already committed to cut unemployment by 6% in the metro, or resign.

“If I don’t bring down unemployment by 6% in five years, I will voluntarily step down in five years. This demonstrates my commitment to the people of this city,” he said in his first inaugural council address last month.

Speaking to CNBC Africa, earlier this week Mashaba, who has been in his role for a little less than two months, said he wants the city centre to be a place where people can go and live, work and play. “It is one of my biggest priorities,” Mashaba said.

He said he wants to work with private companies and developers to ensure the that the inner part of the city can flourish with new high rise buildings and low cost housing – so that people can afford to live in the city.

When pushed for a time-frame of how quickly he can turn the inner city around, Mashaba said: “If I don’t, within the next 12-18 months, turn the city centre into a construction site, then I would really be failing.”

The mayor pointed out that the city centre already has modern infrastructure in place. “Instead of developing new infrastructure, let us as a city play a facilitation role that can allow business men and women to go out and build houses, build commercial infrastructure.”

He said that it was imperative to turn the city into a construction site to build affordable housing, and commercial spaces.

Mashaba said that on his campaign trail he came across entrepreneurs with no political connections working in their backyard in Soweto, because they are unable to afford commercial space in places like Sandton.

And like his colleague in Tshwane, mayor Solly Msimanga,  Mashaba has vowed to open the tender process in the metro, to make it transparent and open to scrutiny.

He said that the days of corruption are over. “When you tender and if you want to do business with the city of Johannesburg, the tender process is going to be open to the public. You will win the tender because you are qualified,” Mashaba said.

He said that the mayor’s office has already begun to work with JMPD to ‘clean up the city’ and remove petty crime from the streets.

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