One of Donald Trump’s often-repeated promises on the stump, was that he would “drain the swamp”. In office, he looks more like flooding it than draining it – but that’s another story. Elsewhere, there’s another successful businessman recently turned elected politician trying to drain a swamp, in his case an inherited mess of embedded corruption. That’s Herman Mashaba, in Johannesburg.
A feature of last year’s municipal elections in South Africa, was that the opposition Democratic Alliance was able to gain control of three major metropoles. The new mayor in Johannesburg is Herman Mashabe, who immediately promised to tackle corruption head-on.
An analysis of the difficulties he faces by Sara Gon, a Policy Fellow at the respected Institute of Race Relations, shows both the scale of the problem, and some of the achievements to date.
“On a daily basis employees are being suspended as they discover more and more corruption. The scale of corruption is so great that the mayor has established an independent Forensic Unit to investigate allegations and uncover evidence to the city, because the office of the mayor couldn’t cope with the sheer volume of cases. Auditors such as KPMG, EY and SizweNtsalubaGobodo are participating.”
One of the depressing difficulties in rooting out the problem, and a reason for establishing an independent forensic unit, is that they have been receiving very little help from the National Prosecuting Authority. Nevertheless, there is already some progress:
Some of the recent actions taken by the Council include:
- a forensic review into City Power;
- the reintegration of the services companies back into the Council;
- the arrest of 106 traffic department officials for corruption – Mashaba refers to it being only one department so far and merely the ’tip of the iceberg’;
- charging and suspending an employee who defrauded the Council by conniving with large property owners to reduce the values of their properties. Carte Blanche exposed this activity a year before the DA came into office, yet nothing had been done about it;
- suspending a senior member of the Billing Department who was manipulating billing for her own gain;
- closing down Jozi@Work, an employment/entrepreneurial opportunity programme in which former mayor, Parks Tau, recently expressed great pride. Mashaba describes it as ‘an official corruption system‘ where the ANC simply acted as a ‘labour broker’, creating a system of middlemen who were completely unjustified.
Read more at Rand Daily Mail:
Can Herman Mashaba wade his way through the corrupt mess he found in Joburg?