The Gauteng province has had a difficult time working with the City of Johannesburg, said Premier David Makhura on Monday.
Makhura was speaking on the sidelines of a local government summit hosted by the Gauteng ANC.
He said MECs in all areas of work had reported to him they were failing to get the required cooperation from the City, which is led by DA mayor Herman Mashaba.
“Unfortunately, collaboration is not a choice. If it was a choice, I would opt out. Everybody who is a mayor of a municipality, we will work with them. It is very frustrating. Every MEC tells me a story of frustration with the City of Johannesburg. We hope that we will reach a day where there is a full understanding from the entire leadership of the City that we are joined at the hip.”
Makhura said the province was, however, working well with the City of Tshwane on issues of governance and development, adding that Tshwane, which is also led by the DA through a coalition government, understood that governance had its own imperatives outside of political squabbles.
“The fact is this, we are not working well with Johannesburg. I will not give up on ensuring the City of Johannesburg regardless of who governs it, is part of Gauteng.”
During his political report delivered during the summit, Makhura said mayors needed to understand there was a level of maturity needed when they held such positions.
Two weeks ago, Mashaba challenged cooperative governance MEC Lebogang Maile to place the metro under administration.
In response, Maile said Mashaba’s administration was acting, in some instances, with lawlessness, adding he was ungovernable.
Maile said he had huge files of people’s governance complaints in Johannesburg, adding Mashaba had, since 2016, appointed several managers unlawfully without the approval of the province.
Speaking at the summit, Makhura said Mashaba was refusing to work with the province simply because they belonged to different political parties.
“We can’t tolerate immature behaviour by mayors who think they can just do whatever they want. We can’t tolerate that,” he said.
Makhura warned ANC municipalities the provincial government would crack the whip in all failing municipalities.
He promised there would be consequences for all poorly run municipalities, especially those under the ANC’s administration.
“We are starting with ANC-led municipalities, that’s why we are here, we want to crack the whip.”
He added while municipalities in the province had done well in service delivery, there was an erosion that was creeping into municipal work.
“We have to confront the reality that poor performance must be punishable… Even if it’s an ANC municipality. If there is mismanagement there, there must be consequences.”
The political to-and-fro between Mashaba’s DA-led administration and the provincial government in the hands of the ANC has been a feature of the politics of Gauteng since a changing of the guard in the City following the 2016 municipal elections.
Soon after taking control, Mashaba called on provincial and national departments to settle their outstanding rates and tax bills.
Earlier this month, the mayor posted a statement to Twitter, calling on Makhura to fire Maile over his handling of investigations into the Alexandra Renewal Project. He threatened to report the matter to the South African Human Rights Commission and the public protector if Makhura did not act.
When contacted for comment on Makhura’s latest statements, the City of Johannesburg said it would not be responding.