I was watching Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba complain bitterly about the discourteous reception he’d had from disaffected Alexandra residents.


It had been a “will-he, won’t-he visit” week as calls for the mayor’s presence in the troubled township, closest neighbour to Africa’s financial and business hub, Sandton, grew ever more insistent.

The angry men and women of Alexandra, enraged by the lack of service delivery and the proliferation of shacks in an already over-inhabited neighbourhood, had bayed for the presence of the DA-appointed mayor. He refused to be baited into addressing them, a stand-off that had the protestors fuming and Mashaba sniffily standing high on his dignity. In the end, the mayor came to the impoverished township to chair what they called an Integrated Development Planning session. In the end, it was too little too late and the residents variously sang over Mashaba, drowning out his attempts to speak, or booed him, heckling and hurling insults. After all, he’d used his own pejorative language when he accused them of being drunk. Contempt filled the air as odd bits of paper flew in the mayor’s direction, along with a plastic water bottle. Of course, President Cyril Ramaphosa took the Mashaba-created gap and visited the residents of Alexandra. It being election season, and all, he saw Mashaba and ...

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