Johannesburg – A social movement that represents the interests of non-governmental organisations in the city has come out with guns blazing against Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba for allegedly being uncaring for his constituency.
The Johannesburg Social Movement, which is a network of NGOs, non-profit organisations, co-operatives and business forums, said Mashaba’s decision to remodel and cancel the Jozi@Work and Jozi bread initiatives would lead to wide-scale job losses, and Mashaba should be “recalled”.
Mashaba’s decision to put on hold and remodel the Jozi@Work programme, as well as shutting down several other projects, has been met with widespread criticism.
The programmes were the flagship of the former ANC administration under Parks Tau’s leadership, but Mashaba felt that they were “vanity projects” which further entrenched patronage in the city.
In his initial statement announcing the remodelling of the programmes, Mashaba said he was struck by how communities despised the unfairness of the city’s projects to provide short-term work opportunities under the banner of Jozi@Work.
“Without fail, every community explained to me that these work opportunities were handed out on the basis of membership of the previous governing party.”
Tshepang Mokgatla, the appointed spokesperson for the network, said they would be handing over a petition to the premier’s office and marching to the council’s offices on February 23 in an effort to get the programmes reinstated.
“We want Mashaba removed because we want to make sure that the 8000 jobs created by Jozi@Work are saved, but we also want to ensure that the 112 co-operatives are also saved and that the Jozi bread co-operatives are reinstated,” Mokgatla said.
He added that the cancellation of these projects, even temporarily, would lead to many homes being poorer.
Tony Taverna-Turisan, the mayor’s spokesperson, said it was clear to Mashaba’s office that the group had the previous governing party’s agenda and that the mayor dismissed their claims as laughable.
“The statements made by this group are littered with inaccuracies and they are clearly trying to paint a negative image of the mayor. These are things that have been dealt with substantively by the mayor in the past, and these are being rekindled in an effort to find another way to discredit the new administration, seeing as the ANC has lost all credibility in the eyes of the residents of Johannesburg,” Taverna-Turisan said.
He said the Jozi@Work project would be revamped and launched in about six months, and it would provide more job opportunities – with residents being employed by the city directly. He said the Jozi bread contract had been cancelled months ago when the mayor saw it was a “vanity project” which “no sane businessperson” would back.
“The city is looking at ways to see how those who were left out after the contract was cancelled were affected, but no decision has been made,” Taverna-Turisan said.
By Masego Panyane