Two months after being elected the executive mayor of the capital, Solly Msimanga says he has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly.
The mayor has declared that the DA-led administration will not be discouraged from its mission to improve lives.
He said he was not dissuaded by hostility against him and his administration. He vowed to visit all areas despite intimidation and threats that he and his executive would not be welcome in ANC-controlled wards.
Mayor Msimanga was speaking to the Pretoria News to review progress made by the city since the August 3 elections in which the DA won control of the capital with help from minority parties.
“I was in Winterveldt and encountered a group of people who were organised to disrupt a meeting with the community. It is unfair to community members who want to engage and hear about the programme of government or how we will resolve issues in their areas,” he said. “In fact, we expect attempts to disrupt the government and for disruptions to continue.”
My administration would not be demoralized by efforts by some ANC people to disrupt community meetings.
“We know there is already a plan to march on the day of the next council sitting by people who have been working for (cleaning operation) Vat Alles, whose contracts are coming to an end.
“These people were organised by a former councillor to force the hand of government to employ them on a full-time basis.”
The mayor said the disruption tactics, including the chaos in council, were used to force the new government not to function optimally.
“We recently met a group in Mamelodi concerned about the houses that were occupied illegally. We met the people of Gomora in Pretoria West who wanted us to address issues of service delivery. We will continue to meet communities.”
One of the first things he did after he assumed office was to initiate steps to cut wasteful expenditure, he said.
For that, he drew stinging criticism from the South African Municipal Workers Union and the ANC, which accused him of wanting to sack employees.
However, the mayor said it was not his plan to start firing people. “What I said was that there are contracts that would come to an end.
“We have people who have been paid for doing nothing. There are senior officials who have been on suspension for two years and these people are costing the city more than R1 million a year.”
He said there were people hired before the elections to assist the public to obtain IDs. “Their contracts should have ended after the elections. But to my surprise those people have been contracted to the city up to December. I tried to enquire from the executive director, but could not get a clear answer.”
Under his watch, a unit was established within the metro police to crackdown on drug dealers. Work was also in progress to start an anti-hijack unit.
In a month the city will launch a new bicycle unit within the metro police department, and officers will patrol hotspots around the city on bicycles.
He said a decision had also been taken to reverse the redevelopment of Caledonian Stadium, as approved by the previous administration.
“There were plans that Caledonian should be demolished and be turned into a park. I have made sure that the Caledonian be revamped,” he said.
In line with the DA’s job creation plan, Msimanga said he had met with businesspeople in an effort to bring them on board.
“There are already people who have shown interest in helping us invest in areas such as Babelegi (in Hammanskraal).”
He also stated his views on the stand-off between A Re Yeng bus rapid transit management and the fired bus drivers.
“It is one of the things that we inherited. I met the directors of A Re Yeng and the union and we seemed to have found each other. Management, however, is adamant that the drivers who were fired will never be reinstated because they embarked on an illegal strike.
“What was unfortunate was that a bus was petrol-bombed and people were hurt.
“But it was all caught on camera and these people will be facing prosecution,” he said.