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Setting the Standard for Service Delivery – CoJ Induction for Board Members

On the 18th May 2018, Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba, was joined by colleagues, shareholders and board members of various city entities in the signing of the Shareholder Compact and Service Delivery Agreements between the city and all related entities.

The Mayor said of the Shareholder Compact, “These are scorecards to measure the success of our entities and service providers.”

This being the first time Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba has signed the Shareholder Compact since being inducted as the first citizen, marks a key event for his governance. As stated by the Mayor himself, “If there is no measurement, there is no way to gauge success and improvements,” showing the need for a formal agreement between shareholders and entities. The Shareholder Compact and Service Delivery Agreement acts, according to City Manager, Dr. Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni, as a basis to “synchronise expectations and create a uniform standard of delivery.”

The nine entities present in the signing of both documents included: Joburg Water; City Power; Pikitup; Joburg Property Company; Joburg Market; Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo; Joburg City Theatres; Metropolitan Trading Company and the Johannesburg Development Agency.

Lael Bethlehem, Chairperson of City Power, relayed the importance of all entities working together. In the case of City Power, “…working together to keep the lights on and revitalise infrastructure, all this being part of the agreements being signed today.”

Chairperson of Johannesburg Water, Getty Simelane, noted the value in such an agreement as a benchmark, setting the minimum expectations required of each service provider. Simelane, expounded on the role of being a shareholder and the responsibility to take into account the broader expectations, both politically and of the people in the city itself.

In his keynote speech, Mayor Herman Mashaba made reference to the past, where some officials and entities colluded with corrupt companies for their own financial gain. However, without dwelling on the past, he made a strong statement that, “We must look into the future and create that future.” Referencing Diphetogo, “A programme born out of the realisation that tough decisions need to be made to pull Johannesburg back on the right path,” the Mayor said the only way to create the future we strive for is with real change.

The Executive Mayor and all those on his team are fully committed to making service delivery a priority for the City of Johannesburg, as such an Ethics Committee has been established with Acting Group Head of Corporate Governance, Raj Pillay, being appointed as the first ethics custodian. In his keynote speech, Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba said, “To ensure the city is working optimally for our people, we need to create a culture of ethical behavior and leadership…this is crucial because in so doing we can align ourselves to our shareholders.”

The Executive Mayor and his team are laying the foundation of a strong city, which the next government and the next generation can build on. “Once again making Johannesburg a city of golden opportunity for all.”

Commemorating the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication (WSSD), Kliptown

What was once a dusty open area, catering for just enough space for trade, dance and the occasional soccer match taking place over the weekend, today is a celebrated landmark commemorating the home of the South African Freedom Charter. Formerly known as Kliptown Square, it was to become the venue of the biggest multi-racial gathering to take place in Johannesburg

In 1955, the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication proudly hosted over 3000 South Africans who gathered to adopt a new vision and draft the Freedom Charter. This has since become the cornerstone of the South African Constitution.

Named after ANC stalwart, Walter Sisulu who was instrumental in organizing the event, the facility is rich with historical culture and heritage.  The square has many artworks that remind us of the old South Africa.  It was christened the Water Sisulu Square of Dedication and opened on the 26 June 2005 by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki during the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter.

A framed and signed copy of the Freedom Charter can be viewed at the entrance of the site, reflecting the ANC and all its’ allies; the South African Indian Congress, South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People's Congress.

The facility is managed by the Joburg Property Company, who are responsible for the maintenance and repairs.  The City remains committed to preserving the historical location for future generations to allow them to learn about their country and its triumphant history.

It is a leading tourist attraction.  It offers a tenant mix comprising of a 4 star boutique hotel and conference centre, offices, cultural arts and an institutional skills centre:
    • the Soweto Hotel, 
    • the Museum that is curated by the CoJ Arts and Culture department
    • a 3000 seater Convention Centre that has three different levels and varying sized conference facilities
    • Public art statues that represent each of the clauses of the Freedom Charter as commissioned by the City to Usha Seejarim 

The Museum

This hidden reminder of the freedom that all the people of South Africa currently enjoy, is somewhat hidden away from sight.  Upon entering you are taken back a few years to when gatherings were illegal and lives were taken easily for minor infringements. The period has been captured as you walk into the museum to really understand what the Freedom Charter meant to so many.

The rooms are authentic and covered in original papers and writings of those who were persecuted and those who didn’t understand the persecution.  When you stand inside the museum you feel the ghosts of the past telling the story of the struggle in many ways.

There are art designed wire statues that mimic those who stood up to the tyranny of Apartheid, with a pinned paper name on each jacket or item of clothing worn by the statue so that you can stand alongside them and march with them as they face the same way. The dusty shelves envelope you as you walk through and read the walls that tell stories of those who continue to make a difference in our everyday lives.  This small, yet concise museum, really does tell the story of that journey to the Freedom Charter and educates those of you that were on the other side.

Heritage on the Square

Sculptures by Usha Seejarim.  When the square was developed at the start of the millennium there were a number of public art sculptures commissioned and the ten statues depict each of the clauses of the Freedom Charter.  

The two monuments that serve as key landmarks on the square preserve the bricks from the 1950’s and as a result heritage was maintained.  The one monument has a stunning dial that brings light through its ceiling, the other monument serves as an information centre.  Both these monuments are cone shaped and are made of red brick.

The Hotel

As you enter the hotel and approach the reception desk, striking photos of a young Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu appear behind the desk. In stark black and white, they take you back into an era around which the hotel is built.

The hotel’s restaurant, the Jazz Maniac, offers a soulful traditional and western menu, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Alongside it is Rusty’s cocktail bar named after Lionel Rusty Bernstein, who was part of the committee that drafted the Freedom Charter.  The symmetry of these areas are perfectly placed as you look down from reception into the dining and bar area.  All around you are artefacts of a bygone era and one would expect to hear the pounding rhythm of African march.

The spirit of South Africa’s musical heritage is kept alive by photographs of kwela musicians and some of South Africa’s finest jazz artists such as Kippie Moeketsi, Margaret Singana Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya and Hugh Masekela, which grace the walls.  

The suites and bedrooms are beautifully appointed and all in a similar African style yet they are unique in their own design. The photos that line the walls of the corridors and adorn the bedroom walls, are all black and white photos of the struggle. Poignant reminders of a time when a hotel such as this would not be available to the majority of the population.

The presidential suite is large and accommodating with a view both of the square and of the informal trading areas that make this area so unique to tourists both local and international.

The hotels conference facilities are the two boardrooms, the Helen Joseph (10 seater) and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (14 seater). These offer a stunning views of Kliptown and its surrounding areas, Klipspruit, Chiawelo and Dlamini.

The GPS coordinates are: -26.289491653442383, 27.843465805053711, the physical address is 13 Union Street, Protea South.

To find out more on various scheduled events and happenings taking place throughout the year contact or Tumi on 081 252 0039.

Rissik Street Post Office restored to its former glory

Johannesburg has many historic landmarks and the Rissik Street Post Office is one of them. Built in 1897, it’s among the city’s oldest surviving buildings and was named a national monument in 1978.

Rissik Street Post Office
The impressive Rissik Street Post Office under renovations. Image: City Sightseeing Johannesburg

At one point, it was Johannesburg’s tallest structure, towering over Rissik Street at 102m high. A magnificent building oozing character and charm, it boasted a mix of architectural styles complemented by exquisite finishes. These included a copper dome, brass fittings and switches, wooden balustrades and a tower that comprised clock hands and bells.

The municipality-owned building was leased to the South African Post Office for a term of 99 years, but once the lease ended in 1996, the building fell prey to vandalism and was gutted by fires twice. Despite this, heritage experts said its core structure was sound, but that damage from rainwater due to the broken roof and damaged walls were adding to its deterioration.

It was clear to the Joburg Property Company (JPC) that something needed to be done to preserve the building and restore it to its former glory. In 2011/12, a tender was awarded for the building’s rehabilitation – a process that included fixing the roof, clearing away accumulated debris and salvaging and recycling some of the original materials. To ensure that this piece of history wasn’t lost, a conservation policy document was also drawn up for the building.

In keeping with heritage requirements and given how expensive repairs to the building would be, it was decided that a public use for the building had to be found.

An initial R40-million was invested in the building’s rescue, starting with the erection of a steel skeleton inside the building to support the roof, walls and flooring. This was important because the wooden floors were part of the actual structure holding the building together, but they’d been damaged and were compromising its structural integrity.

To deal with underground water seepage, a lot of work was done below the surface, where tunnels were dug and water pumps installed. The building was put on surveillance to ensure there it didn’t lose more of its historic assets to vandalism.

The reconstruction project began last year, with an estimated cost of R147-million. The aim is to restore the building so that it is safe and functional, in order to lease it out for public purposes. Due to its massive internal space, the hope is that it will house a museum or art gallery or be used as a venue for events such as concerts.

Whatever it’s use, it’s certain that the restoration of the Rissik Street Post Office will be a great asset to the people of Johannesburg as it upholds and complements other heritage monuments and sites within the city.

Reflecting on 2017 & Looking Ahead into 2018 – CoJ AGM 2018

20 April 2018, Joburg Theatre, Johannesburg – City of Johannesburg AGM

This morning marked the annual AGM of the City of Johannesburg, with a keynote talk by Executive Mayor, Councillor Herman Mashaba, outlining the year that has been, challenges endured and achievements made. Mayor Mashaba noted he is perhaps more satisfied than happy, given the work that still lies ahead in revamping the City of Johannesburg.

Amongst a ten-point plan leading up to 2021, manifesto focus points were reviewed, namely – creating more opportunities and jobs; making local government responsive; providing better service delivery; stopping corruption; providing meaningful redress and making communities safer.

Mayor Mashaba made special note to give credit to coalition partners and the EFF for supporting and defending the priorities set forth, to rid corruption and create clear direction for the year ahead, in which the the City is now geared to perform.

Most notable was the introduction of a new program – Diphetogo – a Sotho word meaning transformational change. The aim of Diphetogo is to use limited budget to bring about real change through investment in community centres, providing sustained growth, driving job creation, improving conditions of our roads, improving clinics, improving safety & continuing to rid the city of corruption.

City Manager, Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni gave credit to the Joburg Property Company (JPC) saying, “…whatever we need, whenever we need it, you have the information at your fingertips. We know that you are burning your energy to make this city a better place.”

Referring to the focus on inner city development, Lukhwareni also made note that, “While the backlogs are huge, the Mayor is resorting to innovative ways to overcome this. Asking private sector to help him convert bad buildings into housing for students & low income residence.”

The outlook is one of positivity, with a vision of a renewed inner city in which the people will be able to rent accommodation for R800 to R2000 per month, resources will be preserved for future generations, finances will be stabilised and the City of Johannesburg will be transformed into a Smart City.

In closing, the Mayor made reference to the budget speech, taking place on 25th May 2018, stating that it will be a “… budget that will speak to the residents. I run a government on behalf of society.”

CoJ Mayor3     20 apr-2

For more information follow us on Twitter @jhbproperty #CoJAGM2018

Johannesburg leisure amenities get new lease on life

In a grand ode to spring, the City of Johannesburg opened 42 swimming pools to the public on Spring Day, 1 September 2017. This followed the reopening of a number of other public recreational facilities over the past few months.

Florida Lake SP 1

In a first for the Joburg Property Company (JPC), the body’s Facilities Management division undertook the entire process of managing the repairs and maintenance work on the pools. Ordinarily, this would have been the responsibility of the Community Development division, because the provision of pools falls under its authority, but Facilities Management had the capacity to accomplish the feat in time for the warmer weather.

Everything possible was done to contract specialist contractors and teams working seven days a week to get the pools ready in time for the spring opening, according to JPC Assistant Project Manager Dheeran Ramdhari.

Some of the work needed on the 42 pools were repairs to and, in some cases, replacements of filtration systems, tiling, heating systems and fiberglass. This included work on motor switchgear, pumps and electrical systems.

The revamped pools opened on 1 September comprised one in Region A, 11 in Region B, three in Region C, seven in Region D, one in Region E, 11 in Region F and eight in Region G.

“With the volume of swimming pools we were requested to repair and maintain, my fear was that we would not be able to meet our deadline, but we persevered, kept the faith and delivered to the best of our abilities,” said Dheeran.

Proper planning has also paid off in that several other leisure facilities around the city have undergone revamps and been reopened. The timing has been perfect, as the warmer weather has already brought greater demand for outdoor activities.

One such facility is the Zoo Lake Bowls Club, which reopened to the public in late May this year after being closed since 2014. The reopening was partly thanks to JPC’s efforts in finding a suitable tenant to lease and manage the space.

The 80-year-old Zoo Lake Bowls Club is an important Johannesburg establishment, which provides the community with a central, affordable venue for social gatherings. Apart from its sprawling bowling greens, the venue often offers live entertainment. Events and happenings are announced on the club’s Facebook page, Zoolake Bowls.