Draft 2022/27 IDP for public comment

The City of Joburg has tabled a draft IDP document for public comment as part of efforts to enhance the quality of service delivery.

Draft 2022/2027 IDP
IDP-Schedule-April-2022 (incl links)

The draft IDP outlines targeted programmes, services, and the support required to drive economic growth and optimal municipal performance in line with the seven (7) mayoral priorities for the current term of office. The over-arching principle of the IDP is the practice and encouragement of sound governance in all the City does.

The Multi-Party Government (MPG) echoes the sentiments of Joburg residents in Council meetings, that change is required, mediocre performance is inexcusable, and that a world-class African City is characterised by good governance, inclusivity, and transparency. These characteristics remain the overarching goals of the Golden Start, the City’s strategic outlook.

In the pursuit of “Building a City of Golden Opportunities,” the IDP confirms the MPG’s intention for the next five years, which entails speeding up service delivery and improving the quality of life for all residents. The City Council acknowledges that there is still a long way to go but that the commitment to get there is evidenced in the strategic interventions announced in the IDP.

Through the draft IDP and budget, the MPG will focus on infrastructure investment, improving the reliability of public services for those who have them, and extending basic services to those with limited access. The mission is to ensure there is clean water and a sanitary environment for all communities. The vision is that everything possible must be done to create an environment that will enable economic growth, making Joburg the City of Golden Opportunities.

As far as the Executive Mayor, Cllr Mpho Phalatse is concerned, the draft IDP is not about ticking compliance boxes. “This draft plan marks a significant shift for the City. A new era has begun, the City wants to know what you need, not merely give you what we think you need,” says the Executive Mayor, adding, “it gives me immense pleasure to present the City’s draft 2022/27 IDP for consultation”.

The proposed dates and times for IDP meetings are as follows:

Region A: Saturday 2 April 10:00 – 13:00 Midrand Fire Station
Region B: Wednesday 6 April 17:00 – 19:00 Danie van Zyl Rec
Region C: Saturday 30 April 10:00 – 13:00 Roodepoort City Hall
Region D1: Saturday 9 April 10:00 – 13:00 Dhlamini MPCC
Region D2: Saturday 7 May 10:00 – 13:00 Orlando Community Hall
Region E: Wednesday 20 April 17:00 – 19:00 Marlboro Community Hall
Region F: Tuesday 12 April 17:00 – 19:00 Brixton MPCC
Region G: Saturday 23 April 10:00 – 13:00 Finetown MPCC

The Budget

Like other cities across the world, Johannesburg faces a slew of challenges ranging from poverty, increasing unemployment, rapid urbanisation, and other socio-economic challenges. In a City with 6, 2 million inhabitants, the challenge will always be how to balance ever-increasing service delivery requests with limited resources.

As major economies transition out of Covid-19, the City is yet to fully recover from the impact of the global pandemic on its revenue base.

Over 70% of the City’s revenue comes from service charges for electricity, water, sanitation, and refuse, as well as rates and taxes. During the various stages of the Covid-19 lockdown, many businesses closed, and household income levels were depleted.

The budget tabled before the City Council considers these realities while striving to improve operational efficiencies to realise better value for money.

The responsibility of the City’s administration is to ensure the agenda is clear, representative of the needs of its citizens, and that the challenges faced are addressed sustainably. Despite limited resources, the City’s drive is to prioritise allocation to those interventions that drive the strategic agenda (the Golden Start), with a particular focus on programmes that stimulate and stabilise the economy post Covid.

Tariff proposals for the 2022/23 fiscal year will be made available for public comment in April. The tariff proposals for electricity, water, and sanitation are a pass-through cost to residents due to price increases by Eskom and Rand Water.

The MMC of Finance, Cllr Julie Suddaby, says while the City has noted signs of improvement, the municipality will apply principles of good governance.
“We will be watching our budget carefully in the knowledge that we are rebuilding our
City, using the Golden Start principles, with a focused and determined approach to see it shine once more,” Suddaby says.

COJ dragged to court over strong-arm tactics

A R21 million-rand – and growing – refuse removal bill is at the center of a court application brought by the Johannesburg Property Owners and Managers Association (JPOMA) against the City of Johannesburg and its contracted refuse collector Pikitup this week. The punitive amount was arrived at by a recalculation of refuse backdated to 2018 on 93 different accounts, which JPOMA and its legal team believe to be both invalid and unlawful in terms of COJ’s own bylaws.

“This is the tip of the iceberg – these back-billed charges continue to grow month on month as more members are coming forward when they see this on their accounts. Instead of engaging our members to find an equitable resolution, the COJ is employing strong-arm tactics to bully owners into signing admissions of debt or face disconnection of other services, unrelated to refuse collection.” So says Angela Rivers, General Manager of JPOMA, a non-profit organisation which represents the interests of property owners and managers and well over 150 000 tenant households in Johannesburg, which collectively pay over R80 million to the City every month.

“Our members’ accounts affect 7 333 separate dwellings in the inner city that house lower- and middle-income tenants, many of whom are economically vulnerable and in no way able to settle three and a half years’ worth of questionable backdated fees,” Rivers elaborates.

The recalculations emanated from a “Revenue Enhancement Project” initiated by the City of Johannesburg, through its Legogo Team. It resulted in the affected properties’ classification being changed without consultation with the owners, or due and consistent consideration of how properties and their refuse requirements are differentiated. JPOMA believes that this resulted in blatantly incorrect classification in many of the cases, with vague, or no substantiation offered. Properties valued at less than R350 000 are not liable for these fees, yet the City is attempting to attach a cost to every single unit, regardless of value, and to backdate claims for refuse that was already removed and paid for.

“It is the City’s duty in terms of the Constitution to provide democratic and accountable governance for local communities, to provide municipal services in a way that is financially and environmentally sustainable and to involve communities in matters of local governance while promoting social and economic development,” states JPOMA in its application. “Users of these services should be treated equitably in the application of tariffs, and poor households should have access to at least basic services that cover no more than operating and maintenance costs.”

The properties in question are all multi-unit residential buildings, inhabited by tenants ranging from the most vulnerable to middle income earners; all people who are sensitive to price shocks, especially in the wake of the National State of Disaster declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on 23 March 2020. As COJ completes its backdating process more and more of these tenants will be presented with refuse bills that they cannot pay, severely compromising the affordable rental market.

Most of the affected buildings fall within the Urban Development Zones (UDZs) that were demarcated for tax incentives by the minister as part of the national economic policy initiative designed to invigorate inner city nodes. JPOMA’s members have been active participants in the City Improvement Districts which were formed in the mid-90s to stave off the degradation and dilapidation that plagued the inner city. “Instead of valuing our members doing the work that COJ should be doing, it is trying to squeeze more water from the stone,” says Rivers. She notes, for instance, that their members voluntarily contribute over R630 000 per month to private companies to clean and secure the public spaces in the inner city, which the City has failed to do over a number of years.

In its application, JPOMA highlights a number of irregularities which suggest that the decision to impose these increased, backdated tariffs was taken with an ulterior motive, namely, to target and mulct entities that can nominally pay, with increased and artificial municipal accounts in order to cover shortfalls in the city’s collection process. “It suggests that certain types of owners were targeted, while the City and Pikitup customers are in fact primarily the tenants, not the owners,” states JPOMA.

The result of this action by the City is that owners are held accountable for the past accounts of tenants who in many instances have since moved out of the various properties, which means costs cannot be defrayed.

The affected JPOMA members, which include several emerging black entrepreneurs, all run businesses with very small margins and in many cases will be forced into either down-sizing or liquidating should the retroactive charge go through, states the application. “The knock-on effect will be that there will be a reduction in quality housing supply in the inner city, limiting Johannesburg residents’ ability to work and live in close proximity, as was the explicit intention behind creating the UDZs in the first place,” says Rivers. “This short-sightedness will lead to the City actually losing paying tenants, as these people will move to informal accommodation where no services are paid for. No-one wins in this situation.”


COJ extends debt rehabilitation program

The City of Johannesburg, during its Council meeting held on Thursday, 24 February 2022,
approved a further extension of the Debt Rehabilitation Program. The extension period is effective from 1 March until 30 June 2022.

Joburg Debt Rehabilitation Program is in line with priority number four of the “Golden Start” initiative announced by the Mayor, Mpho Phalatse. This intervention is designed to assist financially distressed ratepayers and defaulting customers to bring their arrears municipal accounts up to date.

Successful applicants will receive a 50% immediate debt write-off. The balance of the debt will be divided into thirds of which one third will be written-off each year for three years – the duration of the Debt Rehabilitation program. The debt remains written off provided the customer complies with all the conditions of the program.

Residential customers, small businesses, faith-based organizations or places of worship (Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, etc) and non-profit organisations (NGOs) are all eligible to apply.

For residential customers, the market value of the property and all properties owned by the
applicants must not exceed R1.5-million.

Businesses, churches and NGOs would have to provide financial statements showing they are not generating revenue of more than R3-million per annum.

To qualify for the 50% immediate write-off, the account-holder’s balance must be in arrears for more than 90 days when the application is submitted. The combined gross income of the account holder, individually or jointly, must be between R4 750 and R22 000 per month.

Where the gross monthly income is more than R22 000, only a percentage of the debt above 90
days shall be written off on condition that the account holder/s settles the account in full.

The sliding scale to be used is as follows:

Between R22 000 to R30 000, = 30% write-off of the debt above 90 days shall be offered; all
interest and penalty charges shall be reversed.

Between R30 001 to R40 000 = 20% write-off of the debt above 90 days will be offered; all
interest and penalty charges shall be reversed.

Between R40 0001 to R50 000 = 10% write-off of the debt above 90 days shall be offered; all
interest and penalty charges shall be reversed.

Above R50 001 = all surcharges shall be reversed.

Once approved, the account must be kept up to date for twelve months from the initial write-off. The City reserves the right to cancel the agreement and reinstate the original debt written-off should it be discovered that the account holder provided falsified information and documents to the City.

To apply for the program, customers can send an email to debtrehab@joburg.org.za or visit
www.joburg.org.za to access application forms or apply online.