The Tshwane and Johannesburg metros are a mess, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said on Sunday.
“I also want to say, ‘my deepest sympathies’. It’s a mess,” De Lille told her DA counterparts, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and Johannesburg’s Herman Mashaba, shortly before she lauded her own city’s progress.
De Lille, Solly Msimanga, Herman Mashaba, and party leader Mmusi Maimane were briefing reporters in Johannesburg following a two-day federal council meeting.
Cape Town has been under the DA’s control since 2009. The party took control of Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Nelson Mandela Bay following local government elections in August.
Msimanga and Mashaba revealed the alleged misspending and mismanagement they had uncovered after taking over.
Mmusi Maimane said they were cases of “local state capture”.
Msimanga said he found the City of Tshwane “technically bankrupt”. He found a R30-million “slush fund” the previous mayor had controlled, the city manager’s office saddled with an annual R96-million salary bill and botched upgrades to City Hall which had cost R90 million.
A total of R12 million had been spent on upgrades to the mayor’s home. He described them as a disaster and not worth the money spent on them.
“But this all pales in comparison to uncovering the fact that the mayor’s own office was inflated to employ over 900 people, costing almost R250 million a year in salaries.”
It was difficult to understand what work all these people were employed to do.
“You ask what they are doing and you cannot get an answer. This speaks to the capture of the government in order to continue patronage networks,” Msimanga said.
The irony, he said was that the city could not attend to basic services due to a shortage of plumbers, cleaners, electricians, and welders.
“We are trying to get rid of the bloating at the top.”
Msimanga said he had stopped lavish catering, banquets, and parties, to save money for service delivery.
Ten BMWs purchased for municipal officials were handed to the metro police’s anti-hijacking unit.
Mashaba said Johannesburg had serious service delivery backlogs. The city was tackling billing issues and he hoped to speed up the process of granting residents title deeds.
While the public service was demoralised and “infested by patronage”, things were looking up.
“We are impressed by the commitment of so many senior executives to pledge their support for the new direction the city is taking,” he said.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, steps were being taken to increase cash reserves, according to a report presented at the briefing.
One questionable expenditure had been a contract to supply light bulbs for R600 per bulb.
The DA said one senior executive director in the metro had been appointed despite criminal convictions and outstanding criminal investigations for corruption.
The party promised that the metro would soon live up to the legacy of its namesake.
Mayor Athol Trollip was unable to attend the briefing as he got married over the weekend.
Maimane was scathing about the ANC, but upbeat about his party’s work and the influence of ordinary citizens.
He called President Jacob Zuma “the Godfather of corruption and state capture”.
“The ANC is beyond repair. The ANC has entered its final hours,” he said.
He encouraged South Africans not to give up hope.
“Because we are winning! The good guys are winning.”