The Johannesburg City Council has approved the budget for the 2020/21 financial year, which seeks to prioritise the city’s economic revival and maintain uninterrupted service delivery.
The Adjustment Budget includes the allocation of R12.8 million for the operation of the Alexandra Automotive Hub, which includes a component shop, tyre fitment & alignment, panel beating, auto electrical work as well as services and maintenance workshops.
MMC for Finance, Jolidee Matongo, says the prioritised items are in a bid to stimulate the local economy and boost socio-economic development amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matongo says the adjusted budget comes at a time when there has been a prolonged deterioration of metropolitan economies, which have contracted by at least 8% in 2020.
“We have also increased expenditure for social development by R18.1 million, which includes R15 million for the purchase and provision of vegetable packs for indigent communities.
Furthermore, under Pikitup, an additional R10 million has been allocated for personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that staff members are provided with sufficient PPEs,” he said.
The local government has further allocated R9 million under City Power for Enterprise Supplier Development to stimulate the SETA entities and to boost enterprise development.
Matongo added that the City has also extensively invested resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw health employee-related costs increased by R92 million.
The budget also allocated R53.5 million to the revival of the City’s roads by the Joburg Roads Agency.
A further R9 million has been allocated to City Power to cater for the Technical Strategy for Network Health Assessment to keep the lights on in the City.
Matongo says the allocation for the New Basic Water and Sewer Services increased by R11.8 million to complete the project, and the Orange Farm Turnkey Project has also been allocated R128 million.
“Also included under the housing allocations is the formalisation of informal settlements across the City, and the renewal of bulk infrastructure City wide increased by R14.3 million.
Furthermore, under housing, up to R24.7 million has been allocated for the preventative maintenance of facilities and the planned maintenance of retirement homes and flats,” he adds.
Metalworkers’ union, Numsa, in Johannesburg has joined a Saftu nationwide stay-away aimed at highlighting the plight of workers as companies continue to cut jobs in a sluggish economy that’s been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, Statistics South Africa revealed that at least 11 million South Africans are out of work, with the unemployment rate sitting at 32.5%.
Workers are demanding various things, including salary hikes and improved worker safety.
The pickets, under the Saftu umbrella, in the city have taken place at the Johannesburg Central Police Station and the Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto.
The strike coincides with the Finance Minister’s budget speech that’s being table on Wednesday afternoon.
Saftu says it doesn’t have high hopes for the budget.
“We know that he is going to present an austerity budget, a budget that is pro-rich and this is informed by his fear for the raiding agencies, his love for business people, banks, his hatred for state own entities. So there is going to be nothing really for the working class and the poor people in this country,” says Saftu President, Mac Chavalala.
He adds: “We think that he is also going to be following in the presidents footsteps in his state of the nation address, where the president basically presented nothing expect to tell us that he is going to address the triple prices through BEE and he wanted us to clap hands for that and for the fact that the country is now producing 1 million chickens per week as if workers and the poor people want chickens,” Chavalala.
Chavalala says workers don’t want chickens, but want jobs. “We are not told how many jobs were created as a result of that, we suspect that some of these companies were created just for tendering purposes and nothing else. So we can’t celebrate the building of smart cities as if those things are actually creating jobs for our economy. Hence we are saying that we don’t expect anything coming from Tito Mboweni,”adds Chavalala.
Education researcher, teacher and policy analyst, Sara Black, is also not optimistic that education will be prioritised in Mboweni’s speech.
“I don’t hold a lot optimism of education being prioritised to the degree that it needs to be, we know that Mr Mboweni has been a long term advocate for an austerity style of budgeting, very reluctant to consider redirecting funds from parastatals towards basic institutions such as education or even health.
We know for a long time that education budget is inadequate to the task even though we have been told that it is a large percentage of the budget pie. That narrative fails to account for that fact the pie is very small for the numerable mouths that it’s supposed to feed,” concludes Black.
Rights group, Equal Education, is meanwhile protesting outside Parliament in Cape Town, demanding that the Minister prioritises education in his budget speech.
The organisation wants Minister Mboweni to reverse cuts in the Basic Education budget.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura says corruption allegations and irregularities related to COVID-19 procurement in the province have delayed some of the health infrastructure and also revealed substantial governance weaknesses.
He delivered the State of the Provincial Address (SOPA) on Tuesday.
Makhura reiterated his call that those involved in the PPE corruption must be brought to book and all monies must be recovered by the state.
“The irregular and corrupt practices exposed by the Auditor General and the Special Investigating Unit constitute a serious dent in the progress that has been made in the past five years on clean governance and integrity. We must and we will set an example with all those involved in malfeasance, both in the public and private sector,” says Makhura.
He added that the coordination and collaboration with various sectors, departments and agencies have helped a great deal when the pressure was high during the peak of the first and second waves.
“Close interactions and collective interventions with trade unions, business, the faith-based sector, civil society and the ward-based war rooms also helped to raise awareness in hotspots and ensure compliance; and address teething problems of PPE supply,” the Premier says.
“As policy makers, we understood the specific trajectory of the pandemic in our province and further enhanced our Covid-19 response in dealing with hotspots and in communicating key messages to the public. We are very proud of the Gauteng-based universities and academic hospitals which have world-class researchers and clinicians who have been giving cutting edge leadership and breaking new ground about the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” adds Makhura.
He says the country’s response to COVID-19 has demonstrated that it has enormous scientific and industrial capabilities. – Report by Voice of Wits reporter, Mmangaliso Khumalo.
Human Rights Watch has joined the debate on the #PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement. The movement is made up of different organisations that believe that foreigners contribute to South Africa’s social ills like drugs, human trafficking and child kidnappings. They accuse immigrants of taking jobs that should be occupied by locals.
The Human Rights Watch says while their idea of being put first is noble, it is dangerously fuelling xenophobia.
Speaking on VOW FM’s Breaking Ground programme, South African Director at Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, said in principle – it is important to have people desiring to see citizens’ rights being advanced. “The problem is when you look at the context in South Africa, in terms of the xenophobia in the past, the complete disregard of the right of non-nationals or migrants, disregard for the Constitution or South Africa and the disregard for the value of human life, “ says Mavhinga.
Members of the Put South Africans First Movement marched to the Gauteng Premier’s office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Friday. Among their demands was for government to evict foreign nationals from the city. They claim the migrants occupy the most space in South Africa’s economic hub and the first step towards fixing this would be to deport them back to their native land.
However, Mavhinga believes there is another way of getting the country right. “It is not true that Johannesburg is occupied by 90 or 95% by migrants. These are false stats to scapegoat the nationals. There is a way in which South Africans can have a win-win situation in which it can ensure that the rights of non-nationals are protected but at the same time fully advancing the cause of economic development and supporting citizens because those nationals in South Africa with the rights to work contribute meaningfully to the South African economy,” he says.
“South Africa should also not forget where it comes from, from the apartheid era when it was also helped to be where it is today and if it seeks to be an island, things should be done in the right way,” he concluded.
‘South Africa needs healing‘
Voice It In Action (VIIA) is part of the organisations that are behind the call for government to put the interests of South Africans before those of migrants.
The President of the organisation, Kgothatso Moloto, believes this will ensure that the locals get the jobs, services and dignity they deserve, which he says, will help the nation heal from the trauma of apartheid.
Moloto spoke to Breaking Ground ahead of their march to the Gauteng Premier’s office on Friday – to reclaim the city of Johannesburg. They urged the Premier to enforce the law so that South Africans can inhabit the city.
“80-95% of our city is occupied by the foreign nationals, most of the services of the country that are good are happening in the CBD so the reality is most South Africans that need services will not get them. Access to work, education, health and decent housing they will not get any of this. When reclaiming South Africa we are saying put South Africans first in all these spaces especially in our cities where the heart of the economic hub of South Africa is,” said Moloto.
Moloto believes that the country can start developing if South Africans are put first in all opportunities.
“South Africa is under developing, 20 years down the line when looking at townships; they rent any different from the apartheid era, this is all because there are no resources that are going into these communities through strategic modes coming in into the country. South Africans are not getting the best yet the migrants are getting the best before the South Africans, which is also highly unfair. We are claiming South Africa so that she can be at the place where she has to be at right now with Africa and her people,” adds Moloto.
Moloto says the pain caused by apartheid still haunts many South Africans and the wounds are still fresh.
“South Africa and her people come from a very difficult time from the apartheid time, the effect from then is still felt even today, so South Africa needs to heal from a lot of things. Now a new challenge has been presented by not putting South Africans first, these spams across various departmental requirements from the South African government and to South Africa and her people from interment opportunities, educational opportunities, hospitals and public services even the RDPs thus this causes an imbalance to the country on its own,” he says. – Report by Mmangaliso Khumalo