Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Monday he was seeking cooperation with the Gauteng provincial government to grapple with problems in Lenasia township which has seen protests over land.
Lenasia South residents took to the streets on Friday, barricading roads with rocks and burning tyres to vent their anger over land invasions in the area.
On Monday, Mashaba said he had written to Gauteng member of the executive council for human settlements, urban planning, cooperative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile “to achieve a joint approach to addressing the complex problems in the area”.
Mashaba’s Democratic Alliance runs Johannesburg Municipality, which incorporates Lenasia, while Maile’s national ruling African National Congress runs the broader Gauteng province.
In his statement, Mashaba said at the heart of the issue were two competing and highly complex challenges facing the government at all levels.
“On the one hand, it is the crisis of landlessness in Johannesburg, created through unimaginative approach to housing delivery and land ownership, which has resulted in informal settlements mushrooming across the province,” he said.
“On the other hand, the need to ensure orderly law enforcement of settlements to redress spatial inequality in a manner which brings people closer to potential work opportunities. Both of these challenges require the direct attention of our two spheres of government.”
Mashaba said while the relationship between the city and the Gauteng provincial government had been strained by what he called political attacks on his council, “the challenges in the south of Johannesburg require us to work together for the benefit of our residents”.
“A game of political finger-pointing or one-upmanship will not benefit the residents in these affected areas,” he said.
The city’s efforts to address cases in which parcels of land belonging to both the province and the city had been illegally constructed on, were hampered by the police service “not taking up its investigative and intelligence gathering functions”, Mashaba added.
– African News Agency