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Millionaire mayor out to end ANC socialist saga

AFP | SIBONGILE KHUMALO
Published : Sep 12, 2016, 7:00 am IST
Updated : Sep 12, 2016, 7:00 am IST

Johannesburg’s new mayor Herman Mashaba, of South Africa’s main Opposition party Democratic Alliance, at his office in Johannesburg. (Photo: AFP)

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Johannesburg’s new mayor Herman Mashaba, of South Africa’s main Opposition party Democratic Alliance, at his office in Johannesburg. (Photo: AFP)

South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg, is now run by a mayor who describes himself as an “unapologetic capitalist” after local elections that transformed the country’s political landscape.

For the first time since apartheid, the city’s mayor is not from the African National Congress (ANC), but instead from the pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) Opposition party.

Herman Mashaba, a millionaire who made his fortune in black hair products, has set himself the ambitious goal of transforming South Africa’s economic capital.

Mr Mashaba, 56, was elected in August after the ANC failed to win an outright majority in the municipal polls, and the DA, and other smaller parties, joined forces to wrestle it from power.

The change of control in Johannesburg dealt a humiliating blow to the ANC, the celebrated anti-apartheid party once led by Nelson Mandela, and which still holds power at national level.

Speaking to AFP from his mayoral office in the bustling city centre,

Mr Mashaba pledged to run an investor friendly administration, and scrap the “socialist” policies of his predecessors.

“The problem with the previous administration is that they created a culture of dependency,” he said. “I am an unapologetic capitalist... I want people to take ownership of their lives.”

Mr Mashaba only entered politics in 2014, when he joined the DA and began a rapid rise to power that has attracted criticism over his lack of experience in both politics and local government.

“I know that the ANC would like us to fail,” he said in his defence.

“I have been called a political novice... People said to me I had no chance of becoming mayor of Johannesburg (but) here I am now, 15 days into this office.”

Location: South Africa, Gauteng, Johannesburg