Johannesburg executive mayor Herman Mashaba held a press conference at the Johannesburg Metro Centre in Braamfontein on Tuesday morning, where he continued to allege the ANC was behind protests in Alexandra township.
Mashaba announced on Monday that he would use the conference to expose a plot by “law enforcement agencies, spheres of government and Chapter 9 institutions”, who he claims are “being used to wage a political war against the city of Johannesburg and its multi-party government”.
The mayor was soon asked about the Alexandra shutdown by journalists. The ongoing shutdown has seen protesters respond to what they say is a lack of service delivery. They have asked for the mayor specifically and demanded Mashaba comes to the township to hear their grievances, but Mashaba has announced he would only be visiting on April 15, and has accused the ANC of “orchestrating” the protests to win votes.
Mashaba went into the background of his government’s dealings with the residents of Alex.
“Upon taking over this government, we were aware of a memorandum of intent signed by the ANC in a big party in Alexandra, where the City of Johannesburg was committed to [implementing] a programme to change the face of Alexandra, signed by the city of Johannesburg, the province and community organisations in Alexandra,” Mashaba said.
“The speaker and I were inundated from 2016 up to today by the signatories of this agreement.
“We said to them the city of Johannesburg is the implementer of this agreement. We promised the people of Alexandra, let’s get the province because they are the ones in the memorandum promised to provide the necessary funding.”
He then mentioned a series of ANC politicians who he said did not honour their promises to the people of Alex – among them former MEC Paul Mashatile and former minister of housing Lindiwe Sisulu.
“If there’s any community that this government has engaged with ever since we took over, it’s the community of Alexandra,” Mashaba claimed.
When questioned further, Mashaba told a journalist: “You need to really learn to listen and listen to the facts.
“We are telling you what we have really done. I run a city where [many] people throughout the city don’t have toilets, don’t have facilities. There are over 200 informal settlements.
“So my diary on a daily basis [involves us attending] to the residents of the people of Johannesburg”
Mashaba then said he couldn’t drop everything and go to Alex because he was “in the middle of the budget process” and had to engage “communities” on his budget plan.
He then called on investigative journalists to dig deeper regarding who was behind the protests.
“Please go see the people, go do an investigation of one or two of the people who are the leaders,” he said.
Asked why he was quoted on Monday as saying he would like to join President Cyril Ramaphosa – who planned to visit Alex on Thursday – on his trip to the township, Mashaba said he reached out to the president to join him “as soon” as he heard about the proposed visit.
“Last week already, when he was on a campaign trail in Zandspruit, the president made the statement that I must go to Alexandra and listen to the people of Alexandra, I immediately invited the president, to say Mr President I’ve been engaging your government for the past two years, please let us go to the people of Alexandra,” Mashaba said.
Mashaba said he wanted to accompany the president, because to solve Alexandra’s problems, they “need three spheres of government, they need local government, they need the province, they need national government”.
“Even yesterday when I learn the president is now all of a sudden going to Alexandra, I said I’m happy to join you.”
Mashaba repeatedly brought up the Alexandra Renewal Project, which he said showed that the ANC must shoulder the blame for the situation in Alex.
“As the city of Johannesburg, we are glad to show anyone what we’ve done for the people of Alexandra,” Mashaba said.
“The people of Alexandra, including the ANC councillors who are the leaders of this march, including the officials who were part of the Alexandra renewal project, who are the leaders of this march, they know very well we are coming on the 15th,” Mashaba said.
He added that he wanted to go there to discuss his budget plan rather than to “lie to the people of Alexandra”.