President of South Africa and president of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa, centre, greets supporters after a campaign rally at the Alexandra Stadium on April 11, 2019. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET
President of South Africa and president of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa, centre, greets supporters after a campaign rally at the Alexandra Stadium on April 11, 2019. Picture: AFP/WIKUS DE WET

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday placed the blame of the squalor in Alexandra township squarely on the shoulders of the DA-led coalition, calling on Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba to clean up the township.

After a week of protests in Alexandra, in which angry residents raised service delivery issues as well as high levels of crime, Ramaphosa addressed them and promised to ensure the residents’ problems were sorted out.

“Your message is very clear and your message has reverberated throughout the whole country that you as Alex are sick and tired of poor service delivery. You as people of Alex you want better service delivery. You as people of Alexandra, you want people who will serve you better so that your lives can improve. We have heard that message,” he said.

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Ramaphosa said sewerage was “just flowing” in the streets of Alexandra and that residents did not want that.  

“We say Alexandra and ward 105 is not a dumping ground.”

Ramaphosa said the “filth” and the dirt in Alexandra had “disturbed” him and that this was the responsibility of the local government, which is the DA-led city of Johannesburg.

“It’s upon the shoulders of local government to clean up the area so that the rats can be dealt with. We cannot allow people to live among the rats, we cannot allow our people to live among the filth I have seen here,” Ramaphosa said.  

The president said Alexandra had not yet sunk to the level of Emfuleni where the SA Defence Force was deployed to help deal with the sewerage crisis.

“I want to give the mayor and the municipality a chance. They must come and do it in the next few days,” Ramaphosa said. He told the crowd that he had wanted the mayor, “who is responsible”  to address residents first, but that this did not happen.

Ramaphosa’s visit to the area comes two days after Gauteng premier David Makhura met with the committee in Alexandra.

Mashaba was only expected to engage residents in Alexandra on Monday during an integrated development plan consultation and did not address residents when he was called on to do so earlier this week. He would meet with councillors on Friday.

Mashaba said the problems in the township were a result of years of mismanagement by the governing party which has been running the local authority since independence in 1994. In television interviews early this week, Mashaba blamed the governing party for the crisis, saying ANC officials had misappropriated funds meant for the township’s development. He blamed the ANC councillors for playing politics with the people of Alexandra’s genuine grievances.

 

Ramaphosa also ordered the provincial and national governments to meet with the municipality to solve the  crisis in the embattled township.

Dressed in ANC regalia, Ramaphosa was flanked by Makhura and ministers Zweli Mkhize, Nomaindia Mfeketo, Siyabonga Cwele and Lindiwe Zulu, who he tasked to meet with the community committee which is leading the protests.  He said the ministers would have to meet with the committee immediately and  directed the provincial government to “immediately” meet with Mashaba to address the issues. 

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