Forget who is to blame for the demolition of illegally constructed shacks in Alexandra – the issue is the petty political game the ANC plays against the DA as it tries to portray Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba as a bad leader.
Once more, the ANC is blaming Mashaba, trying to make it look like he and his party are responsible for the current housing crisis in the township. The ruling party continued with their campaign that began just before the May elections, culminating in full-blown electioneering, led by party head of elections Fikile Mbalula.
The ANC somehow succeeded to pull the wool over the eyes of the township residents, sending party leaders at various levels to drum up the emotions of the poor residents, while promising that the ANC can do better. Even President Cyril Ramaphosa entered the fray with an almost impossible promise to build a million houses during his first term of office. When he realised his mistake, he backtracked, saying the figure was for the entire country.
Why do politicians behave like this during election time? An ambitious plan to transform the area into a structured township never materialised. This despite the fact that, in 2001, former president Thabo Mbeki allocated R1.6 billion for the Alexandra renewal project – a presidential initiative similar to the one implemented years earlier at Duncan Village in East London.
The Alex project failed because the funds were never used for the intended purpose – and the matter is currently the subject of an ongoing inquiry by SA Human Rights Commission.
Today, the people of Alex are made to believe that Mashaba and his council failed to improve the township or build them houses. But logic says if you were in power for 22 years as the ANC when it ruled Johannesburg, there is no way to justifiably blame someone else – particularly if that person only ruled for the past three years, as with Mashaba and the DA.
Trying to pass the buck to the current administration when it is clear that it’s their fault is going to backfire. The ANC government must admit its mistake in Alexandra.
Now Mashaba has to pay the price. He was treated shabbily by an apparently rented mob when he visited the area before the elections. Local activists, allegedly aligned to the ANC, ensured the mayor was given no chance to address the residents. Even to a naive person, they feared allowing him to speak to the community lest he convince them and the truth was known.
That the majority of Johannesburg voters ditched the ANC in the 2016 local government election to put their Xs in favour of a different party was a clear signal they had enough.
Empty promises always spark an angry backlash on election day, a lesson to every politician or political party worth its name.
Our politicians need to realise that voters had begun to vote with their feet, which represents a statement of protest or a mindful approval, and not with their hearts, which favoured emotional liberation nostalgia and blind loyalty.
The pendulum has begun to swing and the 2016 electoral outcomes in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros proved this fact.
The liberation honeymoon is over. So, stop the political blame game and get down to the serious business of delivering services to the poor people of Alex.