Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ANC announces Gauteng mayors


Johannesburg - Former Johannesburg finance boss Parks Tau is the city's new mayor.....

The man who was in charge of finance and planning during the billing crisis is now the boss of the whole municipality, and has already made clear that service delivery and effective governance are not his top priorities. 

Let the corruption begin.

Welcome aboard the gravy train 

Let's wait for the skeletons to come out. I have yet to see an ANC leader do something other than for themselves. If there are any improvements it will be to boost ANC brand loyalty and image, and not for the sake of the people.

Johannesburg - Former Johannesburg finance boss Parks Tau is the city's new mayor, the ANC in Gauteng announced on Tuesday.

Tau replaces long-serving mayor, Amos Masondo, whose two terms in office came to an end after the election.

The former city finance boss said transformation was at the top of the list of priorities for his term in office.

ANC Gauteng chairperson David Makhura also announced the names of 10 other mayors in the province. They are:

Mondli Gungubele - Ekurhuleni

Kgosientsho Ramokgopa - Tshwane

Mpho Nawa - West Rand district municipality

Simon Mofokeng - Sedibeng district municipality

Greta Hlongwane - Emfuleni local municipality

Calvin Seerane - Mogale City

Maphefo Letsie - Merafong

Sylivia Thebenare - Randfontein local municipality

Lerato Maloka - Lesedi local municipality

Nonkoliso Tundzi - Westonaria local municipality.

Parks Tau: the man behind the council's bills 

Written by Thomas Thale   
23 January 2004   

HE might look youthful - indeed, at 33 years, he is the youngest councillor on the mayoral committee - but Johannesburg city councillor Parks Tau holds what is by far the most arduous portfolio, that of finance, strategy and economic development, which includes the revenue department.

As political head of the much maligned revenue department, which has been slated by ratepayers for allegedly issuing inaccurate bills and then cutting off services, Tau has been in the firing line of customer complaints. But he remains unfazed by the challenge, being a seasoned political campaigner with almost two decades of political involvement behind his name.

Working from his offices in Jorissen Place, Tau gets to see firsthand irate ratepayers queuing on the ground floor to query their accounts, and has a clear grasp of the challenges facing his administration.

Tau, who is the deputy chairperson of the African National Congress in Joburg, has been involved in civic politics since 1995, when he chaired the Urban Development Committee of the then Southern Local Metropolitan Council (SLMC). He served as the deputy chairperson of the executive committee of the SLMC and as a member of the Transformation Lekgotla, which ushered in the City of Johannesburg as presently constituted.

In his previous position as councillor responsible for development planning, transportation and environment, Tau played a pivotal role in the formulation of the City's spatial development framework, the environmental management plan and the integrated transport plan. "We had given ourselves two years in which to formulate clear urban development policies and a management approach for the city, and we have largely achieve that," Tau says.

But, just when he thought he was done putting systems in place, and could retire to his Winchester Hills house to focus once again on his MBA studies, he was redeployed to the finance portfolio and had to acquaint himself with the demands of his new position from scratch. 

"I had told myself that after concluding the bulk of policy processes at planning and seeing the World Summit through, I would have a break," he says. But it was not to be.

Not for the first time, Tau has been forced to put his MBA studies on hold as he familiarises himself with his new portfolio. Indeed, disrupted schooling appears to be a motif that runs through Tau's life story.

His schooling was first interrupted during the 1976 Soweto student uprising, just as he was starting out on his first year at school in Sub A. The political turmoil of the late 1980s also resulted in Tau having to put his studies on ice to pursue student politics.
Indeed, politics is one of the two social currents that shaped Tau's formative years, the other being religion.
"Leadership has always been thrust on me," he says diffidently. From the 1980s, at the height of the national State of Emergency, as deputy president of the Soweto Student Congress (Sosco) and president of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Pace Commercial College, and president of the Soweto Youth Congress (Soyco), Tau had his finger on the pulse of the political upheavals in Soweto.
But Tau's exposure to the brutality that defined resistance politics goes even further back. As a six-year old growing up in Zone 1 Meadowlands, he was exposed to the internecine violence between township residents and hostel inmates. He describes this "horrific" experience as "part of my life that's difficult to come to terms with".
From very early on, Tau came to understand politics as a deadly game of survival, as residents of his native Meadowlands, where he stayed with his grandparents, engaged in running battles with inmates of the nearby Meadowlands hostel. This was at the height of the 1976 student uprising, when hostel inmates opposed to the boycotts, engaged in fierce battles with township folk. The township came under siege as hostel dwellers launched indiscriminate attacks on township residents, Tau recalls. He remembers hiding under the bed with his young cousins while older people joined in the battle. "We could not play outside and had to barricade ourselves indoors as there could be a sudden eruption of war."
Concerned about the deteriorating conditions in Soweto schools, his parents sent Tau to study at St Joseph, a Roman Catholic boarding school in Aliwal North, Eastern Cape, where he completed his primary education. Lessons were conducted in Afrikaans, Tau says. "We used to joke that we were learning to speak English in Afrikaans." Today though, Tau confesses that he no longer does his Hail Mary's and has become somewhat of an agnostic.
At boarding school, Tau learned to be on his own. "You had to fend for yourself." But the teachings of the brothers and nuns have left a lasting impression on him. "Religion is part of who and what I am today. I'm not a practicing Christian anymore, but it has certainly been a platform of a value system that shaped my life," he admits. Although he has jettisoned Christianity, Tau still sees value in the faith. "I want my three sons to go to church. I think there are important value systems one gets from the church."
Tau's return to school in Soweto coincided with the resurgence of political formations allied to the then banned ANC, and soon he was in the forefront of student and youth politics.
Following the formation of the United Democratic Front in 1983, the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) was revitalised and Soyco came into being. Tau's return to Meadowlands as a young student activist in 1985 coincided with the banning of Cosas and the setting up of Sosco. "We organised ourselves within communities as comrades," Tau recalls. "Re ne re inyova (we were on a warpath)," he says nostalgically.
In 1983, Tau enrolled at Pace Commercial College in Jabulani, a private school attended mainly by children from affluent families "Not that I was from an affluent family. It was only through a Rhodes scholarship that I made it into the school," he says.
Tau was drawn into student politics, and set about galvanising students under the banner of Cosas. "We began mobilising in school to get students to participate in Cosas activities, but our headmaster at the time, Mr Rex Pennington, didn't think it appropriate for students to engage in political activities." Tau recalls. "He ran a referendum of the whole school, asking a question along the lines of - 'should the school allow political activity on school premises?'" Although they lost the referendum, student leaders never accepted the results. "We still question those results. They were never audited." The stage was thus set for conflict between school management and student leadership. Soon schools throughout Soweto were closed, as students took to the streets in massive protests.
Away from the school grounds, in 1986, during the second State of Emergency, Tau was once again caught up in the violence between hostel dwellers and township residents, but he is reluctant to speak about the experience, saying only: "I don't want to talk about that." Tau avers though, that: "For all of us who grew up in that area, conflicts have been an unfortunate part of our lives. We witnessed death from a tender age - the community has been scarred. There were ongoing battles until 1988."
His activism did not endear Tau to the authorities, both at school and within the police force, and soon, he was barred from school and put behind bars. Tau was first detained for 30 days under the State of Emergency in 1985. Prison experience only served to broaden Tau's political horizons, making him more militant.
When schools reopened in January 1986, he was back mobilising students, more radical than before. By then, he had had more exposure to struggle politics and had engaged with structures in the township and the leadership in prison. So when schools reopened, activists regrouped to Sosco, following the banning of Cosas. "At the time, those of us who had been activists, were conditionally readmitted to school but others were excluded. Our first campaign was thus to fight for those students who had been excluded to be readmitted to school."
The next year was going to be characterised by running battles between youth activists and the police, detentions and constant disruption of schooling, resulting in students not sitting for exams at the end of the year. Tau was hounded out of school, as police continuously raided the school in search of activists. "I stopped attending formal classes in standard 9. It was apparent that we couldn't sit for exams, what with police looking for us," he says. Sometime in mid-1986, Tau was once again behind bars as police clamped down on activists.

It was only in 1987 that Tau resumed studies at Harambee, a fly-by-night school in the city centre. But the struggle remained his priority as he continued mobilising students in political campaigns. "I ended up studying on my own, and managed to complete matric after two years."
But Tau's reading was not of a purely academic nature. "I read a lot of politics, economics - general reading, on my own. The culture of reading within the ANC helped me," he says. Tau remains a prolific reader.

Tau displays acute awareness of the problems besetting the revenue department. He admits that the department faces serious challenges. "We have been reviewing issues seriously. Just last week, we spent two days assessing the situation. We are determined to resolve these problems. My sense is that the challenge is to speed up the resolution of problems. The contamination of data has been identified as a major problem, but much work has been done in our data clean up programme."

There are instances of incorrect billing that creep into the system that also need to be eliminated, Tau says.

Cleaning up the data, says Tau, is not just about clearing people's bills. "We have picked up cases where clients haven't been correctly billed. In some cases, we found that people had been undercharged."

According to Tau, the revenue department has had some success in eliminating clearance certificate fraud. "Even before I came here, there was significant progress on certain fronts. We will continue to step up credit control." Explaining the rationale behind cutting off services, Tau says: "We are trying to limit instances where people accumulate huge debts before the council intervenes". The department has also set out to beef up its staff complement by recruiting experienced personnel.

Tau says he would like to see his department being able to identify problems and resolve them without subjecting ratepayers to any inconvenience. "We will strive to give correct meter readings and improve on the consistency of meter readings. When we receive complaints of incorrect billing or meter reading, we must resolve them within a specified period." Tau promises not to rest until the problems at revenue are brought under control.

Tau has his job cut out for him, but, if his track record is anything to go by, he might just be the man to take it all in his stride.

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