Kabelo Gwamanda: Get to know the City of Johannesburg's first citizen
By Tshegofatso Makola
The City of Johannesburg seems to be on the trend of changing mayors as quick as underwear is changed, with the city now having welcomed the third mayor of the year, Kabelo Gwamanda.
A ghost on social media, and not really fitting the vibe check on his LinkedIn profile, this would lead one to believe that there is not much to this new character in this everevolving story of politicking in the City of Gold.
The question remains, who is Kabelo Gwamanda?
The Joburg Post (JP) attempted at reaching his office to secure an interview to aid us in getting wider insight as to who the fisrt citizen of the country truly is, but were not met with much success. Nonetheless here is what JP managed to gather about Kabelo Gwamanda.
Kabelo Gwamanda's early life and upbringing:
Born and bred in Soweto in 1982, Kabelo Gwamanda was raised by his grandmother and single mother, a circumstance that he describes led to his independence and need to hustle. He is the fourth of five children, quoted to have three sisters and an older brother.
Gwamanda has spoken of how later in his early life, he moved to Protea North where he spent his teenage years under the guidance of his mother. He has described himself as a product of township lifestyle and upbringing, adding that it is there where he truly experienced diversity, even going to a predominately coloured High School.
His upbringing was evidently not butterflies and roses, with Gwamanda having to leave High School to attend college where he was able to complete his Senior Centificate whilst hustling to help make ends meet at home.
Gwamanda's story is not that different of that of many black South Africans living in Johannesburg, which he has since expressed that he hopes to change their experiences.
Tertiary studies and Al Jama-ah:
A very private man with an array of accomplishments, Kabelo Gwamanda managed to study at the University of Witwatersrand, where he completed his LLB and went on to practice as a lawyer, even serving as an advisor to Constitutional Court Justice Ismail Mahomad.
His legal work spans over various sectors, leading him towards more humanitarian and social justice-like work.
This later probed his journey into the world of politics, where it is understood that he first joined the African National Congress.
It is unclear at which stage he joined his current party, Al Jama-ah, but Gwamanda has never served in the Mayoral Committee before becoming the mayor of the City.
From a seat in Council to the Johannesburg's first citizen, how did this happen?
After the not so shocking resignation of the former party member Thapelo Amad as the Executive Mayor of the City, a vacancy was opened which saw a cutthroat fight to be the first citizen of the City of Johannesburg.
With issues in the multi-party coalition (ie. DA, ActionSA, FF+,etc.) over the preferred candidate, the unanimous decision made by the ANC-EFF led coalition to endorse Gwamanda, made the outcome for the mayoral race lean towards them.
Winning with an outright majority of 139 votes against his opponents, Dr Mpho Phaltse of the DA and Funzi Ngobeni of ActionSA, the mayoral seat was kept in Al Jama-ah.
Ponzi Scheme rumours:
No mayoral election is free from drama. Despite Gwamanda delivering an acceptance speech arguably better than that of his predecessor, Thapelo Amad, this did not satisfy opposition parties, more specifically the DA, who reused the term "puppet mayor" to describe Gwamanda, even alleging that he ran a Ponzi Scheme that scammed many residents of the city.
Gwamanda, as well as Al Jama-ah, have since disputed these claims, even referring to the DA and Dr Mpho Phalatse, the person who brought it up, as "bitter".
Goals as the new mayor of the city:
In his acceptance speech, Gwamanda made it clear as to what his plan for the city was: To improve the quality of service delivery.
“Our service delivery mandate is one that is clear, unambiguous and requires no adjustment. These objectives address the context in which the residents interpret what service delivery translates into for them"- Kabelo Gwamanda
According to Gwamanda, government should provide service delivery "worth paying for" adding that the approach of government should be resident centred.
With Gwamanda now serving as the third mayor of the city this year alone, one will wait in anticipation to hear what he will announce in the upcoming State of the City Address.