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For years, Pikitup has been plagued with systemic problems that have prevented it from fulfilling its duty to keep Johannesburg clean.
Just last week, the Auditor General’s local government report named Pikitup as one of the ‘main contributors’ to increased irregular expenditure in the City.
In 2011/12 alone, Pikitup incurred R572 million in irregular expenditure.
The Pikitup strike earlier this year remains fresh in our minds. It created a public health hazard that endangered our citizens and our economy.
Johannesburg’s streets became a wasteland of rubbish and filth. In some places, residents were walking knee-deep through rubbish.
There was even the the discovery of the bubonic plague in a rat found in Tembisa.
Johannesburg was heading towards an environmental health crisis and there was a real risk of potential outbreaks of diseases and pest infestations.
Yet even today, nearly two months after the strike, we stand here surrounded by rubbish. This is the case in many communities I have been visiting around this city.
One thing is clear: Pikitup is failing to fulfill its purpose.
The City of Johannesburg’s first responsibility should be the protection of its residents.
I have to ask myself, when elected mayor of this great city on 3 August, will I sit by idly and wait for the next, inevitable strike or must I act decisively to ensure that Pikitup’s persistent problems are brought to an end once and for all?
Leadership is about taking difficult decisions and exercising cool judgment. Something that Mayor Tau has failed to do in this situation.
I am here today to tell you that one of my first projects when elected mayor will be to break up the Pikitup monopoly.
Continuing to employ one company exclusively has put the City’s refuse removal and your health at high risk.
Clause 59 of the Service Agreement between the City of Johannesburg and Pikitup states that the City can terminate its agreement with Pikitup by providing 180 days’ notice.
I intend exercising this right.
As mayor, my plan is to prioritise small business in procurement, especially from the townships.
From day one, there will be a transparent and open tender system. No more nepotism. No more backhands. No more slacking.
I will break up Pikitup into a number of smaller and decentralised service providers across Johannesburg’s different regions.
This, in turn, will open up unprecedented entrepreneurial opportunities and create jobs in the fastest growth industry in the 21st century: green technologies.
The beauty of breaking up Pikitup is that if there is another strike or incident of industrial strife, only one region of the City will be negatively impacted. I would then be able to immediately provide support from another refuse collector in one of the other six regions to pick up the slack.
As the jobs Mayor, let me make one more thing clear. Pikitup employees will not lose their jobs. They will be absorbed by successful service providers, and their grievances will be acted on.
Pikitup has been filled with ANC cadres, deployed in upper management and has a poisonous relationship with its employees.
Pikitup Managing Director, Amanda Nair has had a litany of charges brought against her by the SA Municipal Workers Union, yet questionably, she remains comfortable and secure in her office.
This whole debacle was born in Mayor Parks Tau’s office. Again, he failed to use the power of his office to resolve the crisis. In fact, he and his advisers would have known what was coming: But they did nothing.
It is time to break up Pikitup’s corrupt and ineffective monopoly once and for all.
Come 3 August, vote for the change you want to see.
By Herman Mashaba, DA City of Johannesburg mayoral candidate