Once a symbol of South Africa and the continent's economic prowess, Johannesburg has now "lost its shine" and has become a shell of what it could be.
Derelict abandoned buildings, the lack of refuse collection, and the skyrocketing levels of crime are some of the reasons Johannesburg is now repelling investors.
These were the sentiments expressed by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen and the party’s Johannesburg mayoral candidate Doctor Mpho Phalatse as the opposition party launched its manifesto for the City of Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.
Phalatse pledged that should citizens vote for the DA in the metro, the party would restore Johannesburg to its former glory of being the economic hub of the country and the continent.
"We will restore that shine through revitalising abandoned buildings. We had started the process of partnering with the private sector during our three years at the helm of the metro from 2016 to 2019. We handed over abandoned buildings to the private sector and turned them around ensuring that there is affordable housing," said Phalatse.
The DA also committed to also revitalising industrial parks in townships and revamping the transport system in an effort to address increasing unemployment figures.
Beyond restoring the shine to the city of gold, the DA pledged to implement six other cardinal pillars at the heart of the party's 2021 local government manifesto.
Steenhuisen spoke at length regarding the DA's desire to refurbish and maintain the city's electricity and water infrastructure.
"Joburg is one of the first cities in the country to have water-shedding while dams are still full. This speaks to an issue of failing infrastructure. There is not enough money being spent on infrastructure and when the DA takes over, there will be a massive investment toward fixing this infrastructure," said Steenhuisen.
Phalatse also added that the DA would put aside R20-billion toward upgrading and maintaining the city's infrastructure and invest "in the future of the city as many still see it as a land of opportunity".
She conceded that the work ahead would not be easy for the DA should it again take over from the ANC as there is "humongous maintenance backlog".
As a result, Phalatse said the DA would need to bring on board private sector stakeholders to partner with the city in ensuring that electricity and water infrastructure are adequately refurbished and maintained as a reliable source of electricity directly resulted in more employment opportunities.
The DA mayoral candidate said that for the DA "to make Johannesburg great again", it would need to first make it "safe again".
"We pledge to provide safe and secure community for all residents through ensuring that the city has an integrated policing system where the SAPS, private sector, and community organisations collaborate to monitoring areas, provide alerts, and share capacity," said Phalatse.
She added that a dedicated prosecution unit would be set up to ensure that criminals are prosecuted after being apprehended instead of finding themselves back on the streets where they could do further damage.
"We will also set up a dedicated anti-land invasion unit to stop land invasion and conduct regular inspections to crack down on illegal building and land use," said the DA mayoral candidate.
Another matter at the top of her party’s agenda was ensuring that where the DA governs, "it shows care to all vulnerable communities".
"We will show this through upgraded old age homes with qualified staff and building more drug treatment centres to combat the scourge and impact of addicts on communities," Phalatse said.
The DA mayoral candidate also committed to building "more local clinics and employing more nurses to provide quality healthcare to patients".
The party also promised to build inclusive societies through development plans that make neighbourhoods "more liveable, enjoyable, and accessible".
"This would be done through upgraded informal settlements with basic services, emergency access, and issuing house vouchers for those who qualify as they would all build their own properties instead of waiting on government," said Phalatse.
Another area of concern identified by the DA was the city's current poor billing methods which have resulted in communities and households being cut off from receiving basic services such as electricity and water.
To address this, Phalatse said the DA will upgrade the city's IT systems by employing "qualified and fit for purpose individuals who would deal with billing queries within seven days and ensure that debt resolution will be fair".
The DA has also pledged to turn Johannesburg into a Smart City with smart systems to make residents' lives easier.
"We are living in the era of technology and the DA will create a smart city for a smart generation, a city that embraces information and communication technology innovation.
"We will use smart procurement apps that will in turn stop corruption. We will also use smart recruitment apps that will ensure the employment of the most qualified individuals and not connected people," said Phalatse.
The DA launched their manifesto in preparation for the upcoming local government elections on 1 November.
The party took over control of Johannesburg from the African National Congress (ANC) after the 2016 local government elections through forming a coalition with the Economic Freedom Fighters and Inkatha Freedom Party among other parties.
However, in 2019 the DA's mayor at the time Herman Mashaba resigned owing to upheavals in the DA and formed his own party.
This resulted in other parties that had formed a coalition with the DA jumping ship and voting back the ANC into power.