Jolidee Matongo is the new mayor of South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg. Matongo became the city’s executive mayor in an unopposed race on August 10. He took over from the late former mayor Geoff Makhubo, who passed away from Covid complications in early July. Here’s five things you need to know about Johannesburg’s new mayor.
[Update as of September 20: Jolidee Matongo passed on September 18 due to a car crash.]
He is trained in the civil service
Matongo got his start in student politics at the tender age of 13 growing up in Dube, Soweto. He became a member of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League where he was elected as a regional secretary, and later elected the regional chairperson in the Greater Johannesburg Region.
The 46-year-old Matongo has a diploma in public management, B-Tech degree in public management, and a post -graduate diploma in management. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in public management.
Xenophobic attacks against Matongo
“I Jolidee Matongo, the son of the late Zimbabwean immigrant Edmond Matongo, do hereby accept the nomination for a position of executive mayor of our city,” Matongo said.
After accepting the post and stating that his father was a Zimbabwean migrant, xenophobic comments started on social media. The hashtag #WeRejectMayorOfJHB was trending throughout the day. The ANC released a statement saying that it was aware of a “malicious afro-phobic campaign against Matongo. ANC said it was led by faceless people and that it did not represent the people of Johannesburg.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema tweeted about Matongo’s appointment, defending him against xenophobic sentiments. Matongo’s father hails from Zimbabwe, and his mother was born in South Africa.
He has a long track-record as a public official
Matongo was the city’s mayoral committe finance member before his appointment as mayor. As a member of the Johannesburg ANC regional executive committee for 18 years, Matongo served as head of media and communications, and regional spokesperson. His first public service post was as the operations manager in the housing department. He then worked as the deputy director of Youth Development. Matongo was also a councillor and strategic adviser in the Johannesburg Council.
Planned projects for Johannesburg
In his acceptance speech as executive mayor, Matongo mentioned he would like to look at resuscitation of a desk in the city that would deal with foreign nationals.
“The ANC is clear on its policy positions. If people are from other countries they are documented and if they have the papers we don’t have a problem.Where we will have a problem is when people are in the country in Johannesburg but who are illegal and not documented; those people must then be assisted, said Matongo.
Matongo also said plans for the rest of the year would include the city’s financial sustainability. This is to ensure that the City of Joburg is able to meet its obligations. Matongo added in the last financial year officials did not adequately spend the R73bn budget of the city, and will face serious consequences.
“It is going to be a time to hold each other accountable – from the cleaner to myself as the Executive Mayor – no one is going to be spared. The days of sitting in offices all day instead of being out on the ground serving communities to the best of our abilities as a local government’s institution are over. All hands are needed on deck, and this is also a time to enable the youth and women to lead the call for socio-economic development in the City,” Matongo said.
His term may not last long
Matongo is expected to complete Makhubo’s term in office. This term will end either in October or early next year depending on the local government elections.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will reportedly approach the Constitutional Court asking for a delay in the local government elections. The IEC has cited the difficulties of holding free and fair elections during a pandemic.