Mayor pleads for patience on Pikitup mess

    Barely a month in office, Johannesburg City Council’s new mayor, Herman Mashaba, has waded into the seemingly endless debacle of the City’s entity, Pikitup, which was one of his election weapons.

    The entity responsible for the City’s environmental health has been embroiled in problems for years – including alleged impropriety by its managing director, Amanda Nair, resulting in several suspensions and reinstatements – and the entity’s questionable capacity and reliability to provide quality services. The entity was embroiled in a protracted strike by its employees last year, which left the City stinking for months from uncollected rubbish.

    In his campaign, Mashaba pointed to the possible privatisation of the entity and opening it up to more companies as service providers in order to also create more jobs. However, his announcements seem to have rattled trade unions who are concerned about possible job losses.

    In a statement, Mashaba said it’s premature to pronounce any approach to sort out Pikitup’s deeply rooted problems. “The matter should be processed carefully in the best interests of residents, excellent service delivery and to ensure job losses are not a by-product of any decisions of my administration,” said Mashaba.

    He also promised to investigate the matter deriving from residents’ concerns about the state of the entity to deliver on its mandate. He elaborated and said the newly-appointed MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, Anthony Still would lead an inclusive and transparent process of assessing and consulting with all stakeholders, including trade unions, to determine their best interests.

    He identified the delivery of better services to the residents and the protection of jobs, as central to the process which, he said, will be conducted without a predetermined outcome. “It would be ill-advised and irresponsible to conduct it with a predetermined outcome and I would like to affirm there is currently no plan to privatise Pikitup.” Mashaba also pledged confidence in the disciplinary hearing process against Nair and urged for its expeditious conclusion.

    He appealed for residents’ patience, saying it will take time to correct years of mismanagement and decay in the city. “We need to start from scratch in building an inclusive Joburg to be proud of,” he concluded.

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