As thousands of residents from Alexandra, Johannesburg, took to the streets yesterday to burn tyres and block traffic in protest of rampant land invasions, an analyst warned that more protests of this nature could spring up across the country.
Organisers of the #AlexTotalShutdown protest, which started early yesterday morning, have been accused of using legitimate community grievances to fight political battles and campaign ahead of the elections.
Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba said the protest was orchestrated by the ANC in order to win votes ahead of the May 8 elections.
“It is deeply ironic that the ANC has now used the legitimate grievances of the residents of Alexandra for their narrow political ends, inciting the crowd and creating further unrest,” said Mashaba.
The ill-treatment and verbal abuse of the member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for public safety Michael Sun, who went to Alexandra to collect a memorandum on behalf of Mashaba, was proof, he said.
“The crowd, led by their councillors, refused MMC Sun to receive the memorandum and have not yet agreed to a meeting.”
Mashaba said the ANC would be liable for any injury to a person or property.
“Should there be any injury or damage caused, I will personally lay criminal charges against those ANC councillors,” he said.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said there would probably be similar protests around the country leading up to the elections, because the only time residents could voice their concerns was ahead of an election, when politicians needed their votes.
“There is nothing surprising here. We have seen this many times before, where communities become susceptible to political influence, which normally ends up in service delivery protests and strikes,” said Silke.
The ANC’s greater Johannesburg spokesperson, Jolidee Matongo, said the party had not organised the shutdown, but it supported the residents.
“Service delivery [in ANC wards] is poor because the DA [Democratic Alliance] is spending less money on ANC wards, and that is quite evident in the city’s budget allocation,” said Matongo.
Sandile Mavundla, a community leader and one of the campaign initiators, said the protest was about the City of Joburg’s failure in stopping the mushrooming of illegal structures and lawlessness in the area.