Parks Tau

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Mpho Franklyn Parks Tau
2nd Mayor of Johannesburg
In office
26 May 2011[1] – 22 August 2016
Preceded by Amos Masondo[1]
Succeeded by Herman Mashaba[2]
Personal details
Born 1970 (age 45–46)[3]
Orlando, Soweto
Nationality South African
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Pilisiwe Twala-Tau[1]
Children Four[1]
Profession Councillor

Mpho Franklyn Parks Tau (born 1970) was the mayor of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa from 2011-2016. He is a member of the African National Congress, and was the second democratically elected mayor, after Amos Masondo, of the Unified City of Johannesburg. He lost the mayoralty to the DA's Herman Mashaba in a historic defeat on the 22 of August 2016.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Orlando West, a neighbourhood of Soweto, on 6 June 1970, Tau and his siblings grew up at the heart of the struggle against apartheid. Soweto is a densely populated urban area of predominantly black South Africans located on the southern perimeter of what was once Johannesburg's city boundary. Officially a part of the city since 1999, Soweto was the site of many altercations between police and anti-apartheid demonstrators, including the Soweto Uprising,[4] which began on June 16, 1976, after apartheid police fired on demonstrating black students. Tau entered his teenage years at the height of the apartheid unrest and liberation struggle. At the age of fourteen, he joined the Congress of South African Students (COSAS),[5] and became engaged in student activism for the first time. In the 1980s, he was detained several times during national states of emergency—periods of strict restrictions on anti-apartheid activities—which were declared by the apartheid government of the time that was determined to regain control over the population. Tau was later elected president of the Student Representative Council at Pace Commercial College. There he met college vice president Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali, who encouraged him and other PACE students to voice their political beliefs. In 1989, at the age of 19, Tau was elected president of the Soweto Youth Congress,[6] and later he became a leading member of its subsequent incarnation, the African National Congress Youth League.[7]

Early career[edit]

"The liberation struggle and a quest for social justice influenced my decision to join politics making my transition from struggle activism to politics seamless”, Tau says.[this quote needs a citation]

After apartheid came to an end in 1994 and South Africa's liberation party, the Africa National Congress (ANC), took power, Tau continued to take on roles enabling him to help build a united and equitable South Africa. He was 24 years old when he was elected regional secretary of the ANC in Johannesburg and in 1996, he went on to serve on the Southern Metropolitan Local Council's Urban Development Committee. In 2000, following the first democratic elections to take place at city level, Tau was appointed as a Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) of Johannesburg, overseeing the portfolios of Developmental Planning, Transportation, and Environment from 2000 to 2003, as well as the Finance and Economic Development portfolio between 2003 and 2011.

Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg (2011 - 2016)[edit]

As mayor, Tau described a livable city as "a place that creates opportunities for everybody who wants to access the city, its cultural, social and economic amenities".[this quote needs a citation]

During his time in office, Tau focused on continuing the work of his predecessor, expanding the public transport system, and committing to a ZAR 100 million infrastructure programme, rolled out city-wide free Internet access, and added the Jozi@Work employment scheme.

Corridors of Freedom[8][edit]

“Black people in the main continue to live far from their workplaces and have to travel long distances to reach places of work, schools, and leisure. Corridors of Freedom[8][9] looks to remove these boundaries to link jobs to people and people to jobs", said Mayor Tau.[this quote needs a citation]

The vision for an equitable and liveable Johannesburg stems from the Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy (2040 GDS[10][11]) which sets out pathways for attending to the challenges of urban migration, globalisation, climate change and technological innovation facing large cities the world over.

During his time in office, Tau has oversaw the expansion of the Rea Vaya[12][13] bus rapid transit system, improving public transport between the historically racially separated neighbourhoods of the city. In a recent interview with Cities Today,[14] Mayor Tau outlined the objectives of Rea Vaya, stating; "in the long term, Johannesburg citizens will live closer to their workplace and be able to work, stay and play without having to use private motorised transport”.

The inclusion of dedicated cycling lanes [15][16] in the Rea Vaya system is a further development to minimise the city’s carbon emissions and encourage healthier lifestyles for the city’s 5 million residents.

During his time as Mayor, Tau moved swiftly[clarification needed] to attend the climate change issues facing Johannesburg and hosted the C40 Mayors Summit in February 2014,[17] promising to cutting the city's carbon emissions by 1.6 million tons by 2020. Adding tangible outcomes to this commitment, the city has started offering incentives to residents to upgrade their own buildings, making them more energy efficient and for utilising more natural resources.[clarification needed]

In addition, the Rea Vaya public transport system will include bio-gas-powered buses in the next phase of its development.

Tau also committed the city to diversify its energy supply and develop energy efficiency programs across government services, the business sector and amongst private households.

Blue Economy and Smart City[edit]

Early in 2015, Mayor Tau hosted the first Blue Economy[18] discussions in the city in collaboration with the Zero Emissions Research and Initiative (ZERI),[19] resulting in at least two initiatives to improve the city’s standing as a blue economy leader:

  • The establishment of a stone paper factory utilising the contents of tailing dams at mine dumps to produce this unique product which is increasingly used for stationary, magazines, posters, packaging and bags. There are a number of tailing dams across the City and the project has the potential to attract investment from mining companies who want to mitigate the impact of their activities on the environment and,
  • The utilisation of Li-Fi technology for street lighting will be a cost-effective option for the city and stimulate the growth of a local industry to manufacture photovoltaic panels. Li-Fi also has numerous other applications in industry, technology and healthcare and will support Johannesburg’s transition towards becoming a Smart City.[citation needed]


Launched in September 2014, the Jozi@Work[20] initiative is designed to create an opportunity for communities to partner with the city in the delivery of municipal services in their own neighbourhoods. The project helps both create direct employment as well improves access for small business to become service providers to the city. To date,[when?] Jozi@Work has enabled and supported over 52000 livelihoods in the city.[20]

Ombudsman of the City of Johannesburg[edit]

In an unprecedented move for a major city in South Africa, Mayor Tau kept his election campaign promise and in 2014 appointed the first independent ombudsman for the City of Johannesburg.[21] This move, together with an anti-corruption hotline, marks a turning point in the city's administration. The ombudsman will independently investigate complaints of corruption in the city and ensure clean governance for all city contracts.

Record of Public Offices[edit]

  • Co-President of Metropolis,[22] 2014 to date
  • Member of the C40 Climate Change Network Steering Committee, 2011 to date
  • Deputy Chair of the UN Special Advisory Committee on Safer Cities,[23] 2012 – To date

Chairperson of the South African Cities Network,[24] 2012 – To date

City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, 2011 – 2016

Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association[25] in Gauteng, 2011 – To date

Johannesburg Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC)

  • Developmental Planning, Transportation and Environment, 2000–2003
  • Finance and Economic Development, 2003–2011

Africa National Congress Johannesburg

  • Regional Secretary, 1993–1998
  • Regional Deputy Chairperson 2007–2011
  • Regional Chairperson 2011 to date

Urban Development Committee of the Southern Local Metropolitan Council, 1997–2000

- Deputy Chairperson

- Chairperson

Soweto Youth Congress [6] President, 1989

Student Representative Council President at Pace Commercial College


Charity work[edit]

Tau is involved in numerous charitable activities.

He took part in the 2013 edition of the Mayoral Charity Golf Day [26] which raised over R1 million for various non-governmental organizations that assist in improving the lives of those suffering with HIV/AIDS.[27][28][29]

On 10 December 2011 and 1 December 2012, Tau hosted a birthday party called the Every Child Birthday Party, which is a party hosted for children who may suffer from a range of vulnerabilities, including disabilities and being orphaned.[30][31]


  1. ^ a b c d Yollie. "city of Johannesburg - Office of the Executive Mayor". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Leander (2013-05-21). "The June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  5. ^ jonas (2012-03-12). "Congress of South African Students (COSAS)". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  6. ^ a b Anonymous (2011-03-30). "South African Youth Congress (SAYCO)". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  7. ^ "The African National Congress Youth League is Founded". World History Project. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  8. ^ a b "Home". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  9. ^ "Home". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "GDS 2040". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "GDS 2040". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  12. ^ "Home". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  13. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  14. ^ "Cities Today". 
  15. ^ "Johannesburg set to become a cycling city". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  16. ^ "Johannesburg set to become a cycling city". Cycling South Africa. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  17. ^ "Lessons from the C40 Mayors Summit: Scaling Up Solutions for Resilient, Livable Cities | World Resources Institute". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  18. ^ kabelo. "city of Johannesburg - 20/01/2015: Blue is the new green as Joburg steps into the future". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  19. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  20. ^ a b "About Jozi@Work - Jozi@Work". Jozi@Work. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  21. ^ "Home Page | Johannesburg Ombudsman". Johannesburg Ombudsman. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  22. ^ "Metropolis". Metropolis. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  23. ^ "United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA) – UN-Habitat". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  24. ^ "SA Cities Network - Home". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  25. ^ "SALGA - Home". Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  26. ^ "Annual Joburg Mayoral Charity Golf Day raised more than R1 million". Southern Courier. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Over R1million raised for HIV/AIDS charities by Annual Mayoral Charity Golf Day - Transform SA - The leading Transformation Magazine". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  30. ^ "city of Johannesburg - 2012-11-29: City of Joburg Executive Mayor hosts a birthday party for vulnerable children". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  31. ^ "city of Johannesburg - Kids have a big birthday bash". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
Preceded by
Amos Masondo
Mayor of Johannesburg
2011 - 2016
Succeeded by
Herman Mashaba