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City officials swapped suits for golf shirts and took to the greens of the Johannesburg Country Club to mark the successful tabling of the 2012/13 budget.
THE City’s annual Budget Golf Day was held at the Johannesburg Country Club on Friday 25 May, starting out as a fun-filled golf competition and ending in a gala dinner at which delegates got a glimpse into the City’s plans for its R37.6-billion financial plan.

Executive mayor Parks Tau tees off (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayor Parks Tau tees off (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayor Parks Tau, along with some officials from the City, broke into 28 teams that also included business people and officials from the provincial government, to vie for the honour of being the reigning champions until the next event in 2013.

Tau teamed up with General Solly Shoke from the South Africa National Defence Force as well as Sunrise Investment chairman Ka Shabangu and ANC Member of Parliament Andrew Mlangeni.

In another team, member of the mayoral committee for development planning and urban management Ruby Mathang led company executive Janis Sardianos, councillor Thabo Ramadikela and the ANC’s regional secretary Dada Morero.

Portfolio head of finance Geoffrey Makhubo, whose team was short by one member, was joined by former minister of communications and current personal representative of  President Jacob Zuma in Parliament, Siphiwe Nyanda and deputy chair of the Gauteng Film Commission, Nkenke Kekana.

The event forms part of the City’s budget speech and debate week. Every year in May, the executive Mayor presents a budget for the next financial year, and this is followed by a debate on it next day. Upon approval, the Golf Day is organised to celebrate the achievement.

The golf session started early with the golfers donningblack trousers, red golf shirts andblack caps. With 112players on the list – 18 of them women – the groups spread across the two 18-hole courseswith anticipation of the competition ahead.

The results, however, were to be announced only at the gala evening that followed later, in the absence of Tau and Mathang, who had to rush to another City event, the opening of the Soweto Theatre.

MMC Geoffrey Makhubo (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)MMC Geoffrey Makhubo on the fairways (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)It was Makhubo who delivered the keynote address, first noting thata large portion of the budget, R33.4-billion to be precise, would be used for operational expenditure, while the other R4.2-billion would go to capital projects.

One ambitious plan of the City is a project in which several townships will be modelled around the structure of Soweto. This isin an effort to establish Johannesburg as a world class African city, said Makhubo.

Another development in the pipelines over the next year is a shopping centre to be built at the Marlboro Gautrain Station in Alexandra, while a business node will also be developed near Soweto’s Thokoza Park to help“ignite economic activity” in the area.

This year’s budget will also fundthe rollout of Phase 1B of the Rea Vaya bus project. The phase, described as the health and education route, will see the extension of the route through Empire Road to Soweto, passing by Wits University’s main campus,the University of Johannesburg’s KingswayCampus as well as Helen Joseph hospital in Westdene.

“Following that, the next phase of the BRT will be along Louise Botha Avenue to Alexandra,” said Makhubo.

With the population of Johannesburg expected to double by 2040, the City needs to invest in the future, explained Makhubo.

With this in mind, an estimated budget of R110-billion will be spent over the next 10years to upgrade the city’s infrastructure.

“Some of the infrastructure is veryold given the fact that the city is 125 years old,” he added.

Bongi Mokaba, the City’s director of event management,expressed her gratitude to the delegates who took part, saying for them to leave their commitmentand honour the invitation shows the confidence they have in the City.

“Johannesburg is a brand we are promoting. People need to know that you don’t come to Johannesburg to work only. You canlive, play and have fun in the city,” she said.

It was at the end of the evening that the winners of the golf tournament were announced. The title for this year’s tournament was claimed by Nhlanhla Mabaso, Peter Ntloko, Thomas Nkune and Bheki Mguni who are from various private companies. The group topped the list with 93 points.

Mabaso who is employed in the IT department at Wits, said it was not easy but they had to push as a team.

“We had few obstacles however as a team we managed to overcome them and kept our focus,” he said.

By his own admission he became a golfer by luck, but is not a beginner because he has participated in a number of golf tournaments.

“I started playing golf as a hobby and then it turned into an addiction,” he confessed.

Tau’s team also did quite to secure themselves a spot in the top five teams with 89 points.

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