There were scuffles, there were heated debates and there was even a tragic death, but Johannesburg received the verdict late Monday night. Herman Mashaba is the city’s new mayor, winning 144 votes to the ANC incumbent, Parks Tau’s 125 votes.
It was unexpectedly freezing, early on a Tuesday morning but I didn’t let this deter me on my quest to ask Joburgers what they think of their new mayor. I gathered my wits and made my way to Campus Square in Auckland Park.
I considered interviewing my Uber driver but I was wary of breaking the unwritten contract between driver and passenger of listening to the radio after exchanging pleasantries. And anyway, Nasty C’s “Hell Naw” was playing on Metro FM and it seemed very rude to interrupt a song about not quitting.
The first person who was actually willing to speak to me was a security guard, Leo Lovemore Ndlovu, 48. He seemingly set the precedent of how most of my interviews were going to go. He was jaded by the ANC and optimistic about the DA’s newfound position in the metro.
“The new mayor of DA, I’m hoping will be great simply because DA… I do support them. I want a change. Even from presidential until the mayor’s rule. I want the bottom line to change. Otherwise, Johannesburg is a big capital here in South Africa of which Gauteng now is depreciating, is going down. Simply because those top officers just eat money. They’re after money and they are eating money. It’s not good.
There should be some developments. There are some townships here, but the oldest township in Joburg is Alexandra. Alexandra, if you can get inside, you’ll feel sorry and pity to say it’s the oldest township. Those mayors that we came across now are just eating money, not even thinking of people. So, it’s something that is very much depressing.
The ANC now, I wish and hope, will no longer have power in Joburg. Joburg is the biggest city in Gauteng. Gauteng is the richest province. So if the ANC can get out of Gauteng, some other parties can make a plan to develop Joburg and Gauteng. Other provinces look better than Gauteng even though it is the richest province.”
I didn’t have to look far for my next subject. I spotted 24-year-old Mbalenhle Ndaba’s bright pink lipstick straight away and knew I found a kindred spirit. I was right. Ndaba’s background in communications meant that she had no reservations in telling me how she feels that the DA have to prove themselves first.
“I am from KZN and I have seen the damages that ANC has impacted in a bad way. So I feel like since the DA has substituted the ANC, they might be able to do a better job to satisfy the community needs. We might be elated for now that they took the position but they still have to prove themselves. And I strongly believe when they were going out there looking for the vote, they were looking for some goodwill from the people they were associating themselves with. I think they have to fulfil each and every voter’s goodwill since they are now ruling in Johannesburg.[As for the] ANC, I feel like they are the party that is corrupt. They don’t want to back down. They need to make sure they amend their mindset about how people should be treated. It’s not all about the political party. It’s about making sure that the people are satisfied.
For the DA, let them make it [the votes] count.”
After a few rejections, I was relieved to find 21-year-old Gwen Malope. Malope put it simply: the ANC need to pull up their socks.
“I don’t really have a bad perspective about Mashaba since he’s a renowned businessman. You know, he developed himself through the apartheid era so I think maybe he could bring positive change to Johannesburg.
I’m hoping service delivery will improve with the new mayor. I can’t really tell because I don’t follow politics that much but I do hope they bring municipal change. Because this is a revolution, you know. For 22 years. I think maybe they might bring some change.
The thing with the ANC is that they’re going through an identity crisis of some sort. Now it’s like they’re pointing fingers. It’s not a matter of them trying to maybe better themselves or try to get back the people’s trust or anything like that. It’s now a blame game between the ANC. I think they just need to pull up their socks. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.”
I had just realised that all the people I had interviewed were somewhat excited at the prospect of Mashaba’s reign. This couldn’t possibly be right. Where were all the ANC supporters hiding? I finally found Muhammad Lachporia, 24, chilling outside.
“I think that the DA won’t make any difference in Gauteng because I live in a place where the DA did govern over us. No change came about. I think they only focus on larger areas like the greater Johannesburg, maybe like Cape Town and stuff like that. But for smaller areas, they’re not going to make any difference.
I think the ANC needs to rethink its whole ideology about President Zuma and the executive committee. They need to get some discipline in the ANC. But I think the ANC is still better, obviously.
I think some good change will come about in the ANC [in the wards they govern] with Mashaba as mayor. Like with regards to crime and stuff. Even with the maintenance. I think the ANC-run wards will up their game just to prove the DA wrong. When you look at it, the DA only has a certain amount of power.
The ANC still governs the country.”
I had to admire Lachporia’s conviction.
On my way back to the office, I ended up breaking the sacrosanct agreement between the Uber driver and passenger after all. I finally interviewed my driver, Nelson Disemelo, 36. In my defence, he volunteered his services when he saw my Daily Vox notebook.
“I’m really happy because Herman Mashaba is our new mayor. He promised us to do everything that we want in our city. Maybe our city is going to become clean and neat because we saw last time in our municipality the people are striking. We want our new mayor to do everything that he promised us. Especially in our metro, Johannesburg.
Mashaba can do a better job than Parks Tau because we voted for him. So he must do better. He is ours where we voted for him.
So, ANC, I don’t know what they’re going to do because now the DA is taking the power. Which means the DA, especially in Cape Town which is the cleanest city around the whole of South Africa, is very good. Which means Herman Mashaba must do for us [Johannesburg] the way Cape Town is. That’s why we voted for this guy.”
All in all, it seems people are hungry for the change the DA promised. As for whether Mashaba will deliver, we wait with bated breath.