Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba was confronted on radio regarding the shutdown of Alexandra township which has seen residents taking to the streets to protest what they describe as insufficient service delivery and the mushrooming of informal settlements in the area.
On Power FM, he accused the ANC of being “fully behind” the protests in Alex and also said the growing amount of foreign nationals in the township was a contributing factor.
In a previous interview on radio 702, when faced with the fact that protesters have made it clear they want Mashaba to hear the community’s grievances and travel to Alex to meet them, Mashaba reportedly said he is running a city of 5 million residents and is therefore too busy to go to Alex.
On PowerFM, meanwhile, the mayor reiterated DA assertions that the ANC were behind the protests.
“The protest that is underway right now is driven by the ANC. They are fully behind this protest to try and fool the people of Alexandra,” he said.
The DA’s Gauteng Twitter account called the shutdown “a coordinated ploy by Luthuli House”. They provided no evidence for this claim and messages sent to the DA Gauteng leader John Moodey were ignored.
Mashaba also added that he thought the growing concentration of foreign nationals has contributed to the housing backlog in Alexandra.
The Johannesburg mayor’s comments on foreign nationals have led to accusations of xenophobia in the past.
These accusations have resulted from comments including him saying that “foreigners‚ whether legal or illegal‚ are not the responsibility of the city” and that his municipality “will only provide accommodation exclusively to South Africans”.
Mashaba also claimed that “undocumented foreigners make up 80% of Joburg inner city”, an assertion AfricaCheck debunked. Professor Loren Landau from the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of Witwatersrand called the mayor’s statement “an absurd and dangerous distortion of the truth”.
— POWER 98.7 (@Powerfm987) April 4, 2019
Herman Mashaba on Radio 702 says he's too busy running a huge City to go to #Alexandra right now. He was last there 4 months ago. He sounds like he doesn't care about those people. The arrogance of this guy knows no bounds. I'm so disappointed in him.. #AlexTotalShutDown
— Amukelani (@AmuFloyd) April 4, 2019
Herman Mashaba is being asked by Bongani if he's been to Alex in this week. He says no. When asked why not. He says he's running a city of 5 million residents and can't be everywhere at once. Make of that what you will.. #AlexTotalShutdown
— Anele Mkumla (@anelemkumla) April 4, 2019
Herman Mashaba is being Herman,there is nothing shocking about his utterance regarding Alex ,Mashaba is generally liked because he is anti foreign nationals but what many people doesn’t understand is that he is also anti poor people #Alexshutdown hence I don’t have time for Alex
— Major General (@EliasChinemore) April 4, 2019
Excuses excuses excuses. Just admit that you failed
— GIBB GIBBS (@Gibson49371791) April 4, 2019
The ANC in Alexandra issued a statement on Tuesday saying the township has become a den of lawlessness because Mashaba “is asleep on duty”.
“The local government of Mashaba has failed in its obligation to deliver meaningful services to the people of Alexandra. JMPD under Mashaba has failed to prevent illegal invasions in Alex on areas such the Far East, East Bank, West Bank, River Park, Ext 7, 9, 10 Marlboro and other areas inside Alexandra,” it said in the statement.
“City Power working with JMPD have allowed illegal connections by these rising squatters. They have not done any disconnections since the building of these illegal structures.
“JMPD and Joburg water have not done anything to prevent illegal connections on the municipal infrastructure. The meters of formal residence are being compromised.
“JMPD under Mashaba has been reduced to only speed traps and ticket issuing, rather than effective policing of our metro. Bylaws are not enforced. JMPD of Mashaba is in a honeymoon.
“PikitUp is also failing to keep our township clean. Waste is not regularly picked up. In some instances, it is left to pile up in different corners of Alexandra.
“City Parks is failing to regularly cut grass in parks and along the roads. The whole of Lenin Drive and Far East Bank drive have long grass. It has been like this since late 2018. Some of the parks are now invaded and City Parks did nothing to prevent these invasions.
“JRA drags their feet to maintain our roads, we are always subjected to potholes. People in some instances are forced to mend potholes with soil,” the statement read.
(Background reporting, Sipho Siso)