DA Gauteng premier candidate Solly Msimanga on Saturday said he and Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba would be hosting a townhall meeting in Alexandra on April 18 in the wake of violent protest in the mega-township.
He said they would “reflect on what has been done since 2016, and what more needs to be done to make Alex into a place to be proud of”.
Msimanga, “in addition” extended an invitation to President Cyril Ramaphosa, current Gauteng Premier David Makhura and former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau to come and “account for the period between 1994 and August 2016”, when the ANC was in charge of the city.
“This engagement with the people of Alex will also present an opportunity for all three spheres of government to forge a partnership and commitment to working together in order to put the people first. Above all, we are servants of the people, therefore party politics should be put side so that we can build a broken community.”
Msimanga accused the ANC of fomenting the protest as a way to undermine the DA.
“It is most disappointing that the ANC chose to play with the lives and emotions of the people by hijacking and criminalising a community movement.
“From day one the City of Johannesburg executive was ready to engage with the community, but ANC ward councillors instead chose to fuel fires, running a disinformation campaign and spurring the community to engage in criminal acts.
“On Sunday, I will be laying charges against the ward councillors we have been identified as the ringleaders of a carefully coordinated campaign to fuel the fires of anarchy in Alex.
“Further to this, I have written to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to probe whether the ANC is indeed in violation of the Electoral Code of Conduct. The harshest sanction that comes with a violation of the code is being disqualified from contesting the elections.”
He said his party was committed to building one South Africa for all by ensuring that communities such as Alex became places of pride, development and production.
“I trust that Ramaphosa, Makhura and Tau will heed the call by joining me and Mayor Mashaba, a man of action, on 18 April.”
Alexandra township residents on Friday threatened to bring Sandton to a standstill on Monday, while Mashaba said he would only be able to meet them on April 15.
A community meeting was held at the Sankopano Community Hall, where residents agreed to embark on a second total shutdown on Monday, after Mashaba failed to respond to their grievances.
Mashaba said the protests, which started on Wednesday, were based on legitimate grievances by the community after two decades of empty promises by the ANC.
“Following protests in Alexandra, I will be leading an engagement with the people of Alexandra on Monday, April 15,” said Mashaba on Twitter yesterday.
“I have noted erroneous reports that I was due to engage the residents of Alexandra today. I believe this has been maliciously reported, as I was due to lead a funeral and could not have made such a commitment.”
Mashaba said the residents had suffered from decades of promises made on the eve of elections for the sake of political gain.
“It began with the Alexandra Renewal Project in 2001, the Presidential Priority Project in 2007 and continued with the signing of a statement of intent in 2016.”
Msimanga, said it was becoming clear that the violent protests in Alexandra were not just a service delivery protest, but “criminal chaos”.
“It is criminal chaos, which is being carefully coordinated by the ANC and its affiliates, who face electoral loss in Gauteng on May 8,” the party said. “The DA has seen WhatsApp messages from a SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) group, where activities against Mashaba are coordinated.
“For over two decades, the ANC squandered responsibility, leaving in their trail broken promises,” said Msimanga.
(Additional reporting, Gcina Ntsaluba. Edited by Charles Cilliers)