20/11/2016: We need a focus on priorities to create jobs in Joburg
At a Special Meeting of the Mayoral Committee held yesterday, 19 November 2016, a number of the special projects operated by the City were presented for consideration of their impact and feasibility.
In the course of this exercise, I have come to believe that the previous administration was misguided in its approach to economic development and lacked a focus on sustainable economic growth and job creation. This is why the ranks of the unemployed in Johannesburg grew to over 800 000 in the last 5 years.
These projects were large, cumbersome and without any real measure of the value for money derived from the project. In short, they were the vanity projects of the previous administration that looked great on billboards but were low-yield, short-term approaches to our economic challenges.
These projects include:
• Jozi My Beginning – A partnership agreement with the University of Johannesburg that has the City investing R50 million into speculative small business investments, including micro-container malls.
• Jozi Digital Ambassadors – where R70 million was spent on training people to use the City’s Free WiFi.
• Blue Economy projects – where R150 million was set aside for solar powered bakeries using imported mango flour from South America, micro-mushroom farms and stone paper projects.
To grow our economy in Johannesburg to the point that we can reverse unemployment, we need serious measures and not vanity projects. These serious measures have to be premised by a City that creates the service and economic pre-conditions to growth.
The City cannot spend hundreds of millions of Rands on vanity projects that provide a low return on investment while we continue to struggle with service delivery and infrastructure backlogs that hinder real economic growth.
We need to open our City to business by removing the many barriers to investment our City has been guilty of creating. Johannesburg needs to become an attractive place for businesses to set up and employ our people.
We need to focus on small and medium sized business as the real employment accelerators. However, this needs to be on the basis of supporting existing small businesses that are struggling in this economy. It cannot be about the City speculatively investing in ventures that it creates, where no other business would be willing to invest in such a venture.
I have made the commitment to the residents of the City that we have to grow our economy by a minimum of 5% to be able to bring down unemployment from 30% to under 20% by 2021. This economic growth can only happen when the government plays a facilitation role. I have staked my next term on this, but it will require bold action.
These projects are not the solution to our economic challenges. They represent a drain on the finances of a City that has major challenges to be addressed. I will therefore be reprioritising the funds saved by abandoning these vanity projects to better service delivery, infrastructure development and projects that will directly help to attract investment to the City.
Projects undertaken by the City must serve to increase economic opportunities to all its residents and make meaningful inroads into unemployment. These are the projects that my administration will be focusing on, not vanity projects that offer little to no return on their investment.
Cllr Herman Mashaba
City of Joburg
For further information, please contact:
Office of the Executive Mayor
City of Johannesburg
Tel: 011 407 7040, Cellular: 082 495 5673, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org