Mashaba slams belittling of his Chinese colleague

The Johannesburg skyline

CAPE TOWN — Just when we’re looking for decisive, truth-telling leaders, Johannesburg’s mayor Herman Mashaba, steps up to the plate in this open letter describing what he labels Cosatu’s cynical, attention-grabbing, reckless and racist behaviour in the name of fighting Zuptoid corruption. Wednesday’s mass Cosatu march in all the main metros decrying State capture and the potential dipping into public servant’s pension funds to bail out incompetently-run State-owned enterprises had almost universal moral backing. But Mashaba sees a double agenda playing out, one which serves the ANC – and is not scared to say exactly what he means. That’s not the half of it. He tackles the leadership of the Johannesburg march which demanded he and his exco stop whatever they were doing (they were in a council sitting) and come to accept their memorandum. When he sent his Public Safety mayoral executive committee member, Michael Sun, to stand in for him, Sun was denigrated from the podium for his Chinese ancestry with ugly racist remarks. Mashaba is having none of it, even calling to account Education Minister and SACP stalwart, Blade Nzimande for standing silently by as the racial epithets flew. The open letter powerfully illustrates just how many shades of grey define our politics right now. – Chris Bateman

By Herman Mashaba

It is time to stop this façade of being a trade union that has the best interests of working class South Africans at heart. Your sole mission is to play politics and ensure that the ANC maintains its control of the state purse.

Herman Mashaba

It is well known that Thursday was a Council sitting date in Johannesburg and therefore, neither I nor any member of my executive would be available to collect your memorandum in person, as we needed to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities by being present at the Council meeting.

However, upon further request by your leadership present at the march, I decided to send one of the Members of the Mayoral Committee, Councillor Michael Sun, to meet your representatives and receive your memorandum in person.

Upon graciously agreeing to receive your memorandum, Michael arrived at your march and climbed the ladder onto the back of a truck. When he greeted your leadership, which included the leader of the SACP, Blade Nzimande, another of your leaders announced to the crowd that the Mayor had sent a “fong kong” to receive the memorandum. He proceeded to state, that at least he [Michael Sun] was knowledgeable in “karate”.

Throughout this belittling and racist tirade Mr Nzimande stood quietly. But, your leader was not done yet. As Michael prepared to sign the memorandum, he was presented to the crowd as “Mr Lee”. Mr Nzimande remained unmoved while proudly staring at the crowd.

Michael was then unceremoniously instructed to get off the back of the truck, without being given the opportunity to address the crowd and inform them of our efforts to fight corruption in the City of Joburg – I note that this courtesy was extended to the ANC Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura. But of course you would not have wanted us to share this information with your members.

In light of the disgusting and shameful, racist treatment he received from your leadership at the march, I would like to introduce you to the man your leadership chose to insult so shamefully.

Michael is a passionate and loyal South African citizen of Chinese decent. He has been a dedicated and hardworking councillor in the City of Johannesburg for the past 12 years. He is also an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, with close to two decades of experience.

Since being appointed MMC of Public Safety, Michael has been instrumental in introducing positive changes in the JMPD, including the establishment of the K9 Narcotics Unit that is waging war on drugs, and the recruitment of an additional 1,500 JMPD officers, which will represent a 50% increase in size of the JMPD force.

I condemn your racist behaviour in the strongest terms. To belittle a senior City official is one thing, but to racially abuse a passionate and loyal South African on the basis of his looks and descendants’ origins is utterly shameful. As a black South African, and given our intimate understanding of racial abuse, I am ashamed that Michael was treated in this denigrating manner by my fellow people. Your words were an insult to every South African of Chinese descent.

I demand that you publicly condemn these racist comments and apologise to Councillor Michael Sun.

Let me now address the contents of your memorandum of demands to the City of Joburg.

While we actively work towards the removal of labour brokers in the City, you choose to demand the reinstatement of the Jozi@Work Programme. I have repeated, time and time again, that this was a corrupt programme benefitting ANC card-carrying members. The City paid middlemen (labour brokers) to provide members of communities with temporary work opportunities. This resulted in these middlemen becoming overnight millionaires, instead of ensuring that this programme benefitted our poor and unemployed residents.

The new administration is unapologetic about eradicating this labour brokering programme which only enriched ANC cadres. Instead, we are providing employees with direct work opportunities, cutting out the self-serving middle men, and ensuring that even more residents can benefit from work opportunities.

You claim to be a movement that is hell-bent on the destruction of labour brokering, yet you blindly endorse the reinstatement of a labour brokering programme in Johannesburg. However, the proof of your claim lies in real action, not just trumpeting hollow slogans while feasting on the gravy train. In the City of Joburg, the new administration is actively reducing outsourcing in the City, and we have started a process to in-source all security services. Caterers and cleaners will be next.

You speak about fighting corruption, yet you demand that we reinstate all workers who have been suspended in the licensing department. Do you realise that over 100 employees from the licensing centres were suspended on serious charges of fraud and corruption? A number of these employees have already been arrested and have appeared in court on criminal charges. They have stolen millions of Rand from the City; money that could and should have been used to provide basic services to our residents, especially the poor.

On top of this demand, you also insist that we refrain from sharing this information with the media, and that we stop working with the Police and Hawks on these internal matters. Surely you can’t be serious?

Firstly, the public have a right to know about the outright looting that was taking place in this City under the leadership of your beloved ANC. Secondly, the City is limited in its powers when it comes to the criminal justice system. If we are to win the war against corruption, it is essential that we work together with institutions such as the Police and Hawks to ensure that corrupt criminals in this city are prosecuted.

I am dumbfounded by your demands. Were you seriously marching against corruption?

Since entering office, we have declared corruption public enemy number one in Johannesburg. We appointed General Shadrack Sibiya, the former head of the Hawks in Gauteng, to head up our Group Forensic and Investigations Department. To date, we have uncovered almost R15 billion in fraud, corruption, and theft in the City. Over 300 people have been arrested and over 100 officials have been suspended. I ask you to name any other sphere of government that has shown this dedication to rooting out corruption from the corridors of government?

Your demand for the reinstatement of free basic water and electricity is unfounded. Poor residents in Joburg still have access to both through our Expanded Social Package. In fact, the national norm is to provide 6kl of free water per month, but we have increased this to between 10kl and 15kl per month. This is how we protect the interests of our poor, while ensuring that those who can pay, do pay.

Your attempts to position yourselves as our nation’s ‘saviours’ from the clutches of state capture and corruption is fatally flawed. This is not only because your actions are almost a decade late, but it attempts to erase the public’s memory of how your organisation played a leading role in allowing corrupt leaders to rise to the highest echelons of our nation.

The fact that this sudden burst of energy is occurring a few months before the ANC’s elective conference is telling.

Yesterday, you disgraced your organisation with your racist comments and exposed your reckless endorsement of a labour brokering system. Your lack of sincerity in the fight against corruption is blatantly revealed in your demand for the reinstatement of corrupt employees in the City of Joburg.

I think it’s time to stop this façade of being a trade union that has the best interests of working class South Africans at heart. Your sole mission is to play politics and ensure that the ANC maintains its control of the state purse.

The South African public is no longer fooled, and looking at your decreasing support, it is apparent that neither are the working class.

This article was first run in BizNews

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