David Makhura. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET
David Makhura. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET

Gauteng premier David Makhura says he will not play the blame game in the service delivery issues in the Alexandra township, but will rather try to find a solution to the crisis.

Residents of Alexandra have been protesting against the lack of service delivery, illegal structures, squalor and rampant crime in the township that neighbours the continent’s richest square mile, Sandton.

The protest action has now become a political football with the DA accusing the ANC councillors of fanning the crisis. The party, which is leading the coalition of opposition parties running the Johannesburg metro, has accused the ruling party of creating the mess. 

The political interest in the protest comes less than a month before the national and provincial elections on May 8, in which Gauteng is expected to be the main electoral battleground as opposition parties hope to push the ANC below its majority in the province.

About R1.2bn for the Alexandra renewal project was set aside by former president Thabo Mbeki’s government in 2001. The money achieved little and most of it has allegedly disappeared. After meeting a crisis committee in the township on Tuesday, Makhura promised to investigate what happened to the money.

A resident of the Alexandra township holds an helmet as he gestures and chants slogans during a gathering in front of the Gauteng local municipal offices in Sandton to hand over a memorandum of their demands on April 8, 2019. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET
A resident of the Alexandra township holds an helmet as he gestures and chants slogans during a gathering in front of the Gauteng local municipal offices in Sandton to hand over a memorandum of their demands on April 8, 2019. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET

The DA accused the provincial government of ignoring its requests for a meeting on the township. It also said the provincial government is deliberately starving the metro of funds allocated for services.

A resident of Alexandra township holds a bamboo stick as he sits down to block the Grayston Drive road as he takes part in a march towards the Gauteng local municipal offices in Sandton to hand over a memorandum of demands on April 8, 2019. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET
A resident of Alexandra township holds a bamboo stick as he sits down to block the Grayston Drive road as he takes part in a march towards the Gauteng local municipal offices in Sandton to hand over a memorandum of demands on April 8, 2019. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Tuesday the work done by the DA-led coalition “threatens the survival of the ANC”, as his government has exposed the ANC’s failures and service delivery backlogs, while cutting off money to “politically connected companies”.

Since the onset of the protests last week the community has been calling on Mashaba to address them. But Mashaba said he could only engage the residents next week Monday after meeting councillors on Friday.

On Monday the residents marched to the council offices in Sandton to demand that Mashaba address them.

After a no-show by the mayor on Monday, they called for a meeting with Ramaphosa. The president, accompanied by Makhura, is expected to visit the township on Thursday.

Mashaba accused the ANC on Tuesday of using the crisis in Alexandra and the state as weapons to “collapse” SA’s economic hub.

Backing up the claim about the state being used against Johannesburg, Mashaba referred to investigations into the city by the Special Investigating Unit, the public protector and the MEC of co-operative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements, Uhuru Moiloa.

He said it is no secret that the ANC is trying to collapse multiparty governments and accused the party in Johannesburg of using “allied unions, temporary workers and motions of no confidence to try and collapse this administration”.

He said he has engaged former MEC Paul Mashatile and Makhura over the past two years on funding for among others the Alexandra renewal project, but has yet to receive an answer.

He called on Ramaphosa to make his visit to the troubled township an intergovernmental event that puts politics aside.

After meeting the crisis committee, Makhura said those who “want to keep blaming others” could do so.

“I am sure when we sit down we will see who is not doing what and I am very sure that the city of Johannesburg has to do its job [and] the provincial government has to do its job,” Makhura said.

He will brief Ramaphosa on the issues raised, including the construction of illegal structures.

mailovichc@businesslive.co.za