Business organisation Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) says the Johannesburg Crisis Alliance’s call for an immediate intervention to end the “coalition chaos” in the City of Johannesburg is “an important intervention, as the political instability and poor leadership in the city present a major threat to the economic heartland of South Africa and requires urgent attention”.
“The escalation of crisis incidents, such as the recent deadly fire in Hillbrow, the gas explosion in the central business district and an increase in property hijackings and criminal syndicates, are warnings that urgent action is required to prevent the total collapse of the city. Even anarchy is fast becoming a real concern,” posits CEO Busisiwe Mavuso.
BLSA avers that Johannesburg is a key economic location and is vital to the national economy.
“With most of the major South African companies and banks’ head offices in and around the city, many have been making transformative contributions even without support from the municipality,” it posits.
“While there are pockets of excellence, these have largely been driven by the private sector and civil society. We are seeing many of our members, and others, working in partnership with local government entities that have the will, but possibly not the financial ability, to repair infrastructure,” says Mavuso.
BLSA says that, for example, the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has embraced several separate partnerships to provide generators to power traffic lights; back-up power on some congested aerial routes and initiatives to repair potholes, with about 175 000 potholes repaired in the past two years.
“These buffer measures are efforts to arrest the decay, but with no consolidated city authority, the City of Johannesburg will remain fragmented. We remind those responsible for the current state of affairs, that residents do not care for political ideologies when their lives and livelihoods are at risk because of dysfunctional operations, which are evident everywhere,” BLSA emphasises.
“The decline is so bad that there are no quick fixes. BLSA believes that, with a clear framework supported by a municipal-business engagement, the City of Johannesburg ought to be able to invest in priorities that will simultaneously tackle regeneration, reduce poverty, protect its residents, increase employment opportunities, and boost investment,” Mavuso says.
She says that CEOs, entrepreneurs and community leaders are prepared to engage with the City of Johannesburg leadership to play a critical role in shaping the city’s recovery.
BLSA believes productive partnerships between business and local government will strengthen the city’s position for growth, advance the local economy and recover Johannesburg’s position as the heartland of South Africa’s economy.
“This dialogue is critical because a business-municipal arrangement has the ability to strike a balance between addressing tactical and societal needs of the local population and business interests, which in turn will attract much needed funding and resources for service delivery,” BLSA highlights.