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Mashaba: Jozi can be business friendly and pro-poor

Sep 13 2016 20:08

Cape Town - Mayor Herman Mashaba, who wants the City of Johannesburg to be the engine room of South Africa’s economic activity, doubled the city's growth target from 2.5% to 5% on Tuesday.

In his inaugural speech, the well-known businessman committed to a pro-poor government, noting that he is aware of the struggles of the poor because he was brought up by a single mother who was a domestic worker.

The Democratic Alliance, together with the Economic Freedom Fighters, voted to oust the African National Congress in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay as the ANC’s worst-ever election performance cost it control of three of South Africa’s eight major metropolitan areas.

Mashaba said a projected target of 2.5% is simply not good enough. "Joburg must be the engine room of South Africa’s economic growth, but this cannot happen at the current growth rate."

He said the biggest challenge facing the City is the soaring unemployment which confronts over 800 000 people.

"Almost one in three of our residents is without work - the youth of our city being the biggest casualties of this epidemic."

Mashaba said strong economic growth is vital to ensure people are employed.

"[T]o accept 2.5% economic growth would mean we accept that we will not make a dent in the number of unemployed people in our city. I cannot accept this."

He said an agreement has already been reached with department heads that all plans and policies must be aligned for the City to work towards achieving a 5% economic growth rate.

"While this is an ambitious target, we appreciate the fact that if we do not achieve this, unemployment will remain high and the youth will still be out of school and out of jobs at the end of this term."

Mashaba said his DA-led administration understands that the actual role of local government in job-creation is to facilitate an enabling environment for businesses to establish themselves, flourish and thereby create permanent jobs.

Small businesses create jobs, Mashaba said, adding that small business development will be the focus of his term in office.

"They have an abundance of potential waiting to be unlocked and they have the ability to expand into employers of our people," he said.

"[A] job is a means to dignity and self-improvement in a way that can never be achieved by a social grant."

Mashaba noted that he is familiar with the plight of the poor.

"I understand and lived this plight, and I can assure you this will be an administration which makes delivering to the poor and fighting poverty its top priority," he said.

"My father died when I was two years old and my mother was a domestic worker in Johannesburg, raising other people’s children, while my sisters and I were lucky to see her once a month."

He said the DA-led administration must run a responsive and pro-poor government.

"On this point, I would like to state unapologetically that the majority of this city’s budget will be directed to poor communities. However, it is important to understand that our city can be business-friendly and pro-poor at the same time – in fact, the two must go hand in hand if we wish to succeed in creating a city of golden opportunities."

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herman mashaba  |  jobs  |  sa economy
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