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Instability in Johannesburg – mayors’ short tenures raise concerns



Johannesburg mayor

South Africa’s largest city had to grapple with yet another change in leadership as the sixth Johannesburg mayor was inaugurated in just 22 months on 17 May 2023. The appointment of Kabelo Gwamanda, a relatively unknown first-term city councillor from a minor political party, comes amidst a backdrop of mounting challenges the city’s residents face, including water shortages, uncollected garbage, and deteriorating infrastructure, as per The New York Times.

Johannesburg was once a city of promise and opportunity that attracted hopeful prospectors searching for gold. Today it has become a subject of political ridicule. The frequent turnover of mayors has plunged the metropolis into uncertainty, leaving its residents disheartened and the city’s future hanging in the balance.

The appointment of Gwamanda followed a series of intense negotiations and power struggles among political factions, resulting in shifting alliances and the formation of new coalitions. The instability at the leadership level has taken a toll on the delivery of essential services, leaving residents to contend with prolonged power outages, limited access to clean water, crumbling roads, and concerns over buildings that need serious servicing.

Also read: Local ward councillors give their thoughts on Johannesburg’s latest mayor

Pretty Mhlophe, a resident of the Elangeni Gardens residential complex, acknowledges the blessings of her modest home but cannot overlook the deteriorating conditions beyond its walls. While the complex provides a haven with recreational facilities for children, the neighbouring buildings bear the scars of neglect, with overflowing trash and an influx of squatters turning them into hazardous environments.


The situation in Johannesburg raises concerns about the potential implications for the upcoming national elections. Forming coalition governments becomes crucial, with no single party expected to secure a majority. However, the instability and infighting witnessed in the city’s governance serve as a cautionary tale for what might lie ahead for the rest of South Africa.

As our nation navigates its political landscape, Johannesburg’s challenges reflect a broader struggle to overcome the legacy of apartheid and provide equal opportunities and services for everyone. While the city boasts cultural vibrancy and attractions, including music, dining, and arts scenes, the daily realities faced by many citizens are a stark contrast. Widespread poverty, crime, and deteriorating infrastructure continue to plague the lives of countless individuals, emphasising the urgent need for effective and stable governance.

In his inauguration speech, Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda expressed a desire to collaborate and revive the heartbeat of Johannesburg. However, with the history of short mayoral terms, the city remains cautious about the longevity of this leadership and the ability to address its deep-rooted challenges.

As Johannesburg’s residents and South Africa look to the future, there is a collective hope that stability, accountability, and effective governance will prevail, allowing the city to reclaim its status as a thriving hub of opportunity and progress.

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Executive Mayor Cllr Kabelo Gwamanda dismisses scam claims as unfounded

Picture: Twitter / MTshwaku

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