clown car

South Africa: Johannesburg’s circus of eight mayors in two years

By Ray Mwareya

Premium badge Reserved for subscribers

Posted on May 25, 2023 11:20

 © The new mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Kabelo Gwamanda (Twitter)
The new mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Kabelo Gwamanda (Twitter)

The circus of eight mayors in the past two years in the South African city of Johannesburg has not only deepened the city’s rot, but reached a crescendo earlier this month when a suspected fraudster was appointed executive mayor only to briefly appoint a convicted scammer as acting mayor in Africa’s wealthiest city.

Fierce political jostling has tipped Johannesburg into dysfunction, hitting on utilities, including electricity and water, as well as violent crime and high-level corruption.

The revolving door began when Geoffrey Makhubo left office in 2021 only to be replaced by Joline Matongo, Mpho Moerane, Mpho Phalatse (twice), Thapelo Amad, Kenny Kunene (appointed acting mayor for two days), and now Kabelo Gwamanda.

Eight mayors in two years – it’s such a tragicomedy that will haunt Johannesburg’s residents for years to come.

It’s the latter two – Kunene and Gwamanda – whose hold on the mayor’s office has made critics call time on the continent’s so-called “world-class African city.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s main opposition party, says that before becoming mayor, Gwamanda ran a Ponzi scheme, allegedly defrauding members of the public in an elaborate funeral insurance scam. At

There's more to this story

Get unlimited access to our exclusive journalism and features today. Our award-winning team of correspondents and editors report from over 54 African countries, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Abidjan to Abuja to Addis Ababa. Africa. Unlocked.

Subscribe Now

cancel anytime