Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has not been allowed to address booing Alexandra residents at the community hall in Marlboro after much build-up to the occasion.
The meeting was chaos from start to finish, with residents singing angry songs and even throwing items on to the stage, where the mayor waited patiently to address them from 6pm.
The only moment of order came when community leaders handed over a memorandum demanding service delivery.
Earlier, Mashaba had made it clear that nothing would stop him from meeting with Alexandra locals to discuss grievances on Monday afternoon following ongoing protests in the township.
In a statement shortly afterwards, the DA blamed the ANC for instigating the disruption. Spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the images of deliberate disruption were premeditated by the ANC.
“Mayor Mashaba went to Alexandra to address the concerns of the community but was prevented from doing so when the meeting was hijacked by several rogue elements in the hall – no doubt sponsored by the failing ANC.
“What was meant to be a genuine interaction about concrete plans and budgets between the mayor and the community was hijacked and the meeting soon disintegrated into chaos and disorder. The ANC has denied the people of Alex a real opportunity to hear Mayor Mashaba’s plans to speed up service delivery and development.
“The ANC has truly deserted what was left of its democratic values and replaced it with violent, anarchic and chaotic tendencies.
“Due to the ANC’s interference, it was obvious that the intention was never for Mashaba to engage with the residents. They do not care about the grievances of the people of Alexandra, they only care about the narrow electoral prospects.”
He said the mayor and the DA-led coalition would still work to implement plans “to bring about real change to the people of Alex and Johannesburg”.
Mashaba had earlier said he looked forward to the engagement with the community in order for a collective plan to tackle the challenges that have been raised to be addressed.
“We will be discussing some of the interventions we hope to bring to the community,” Mashaba said in a tweet.
The mayor was warned by locals not to come to the township to table his IDP plan for Alex and region E. The hall is not actually in Alex, but is not far from the major township.
In response to the apparent rejection by locals, he said he had consulted with his legal counsel advocate Dali Mpofu, who advised him it would be against the constitution to prevent him from visiting the township.
During HF Verwoerd Apartheid SA, Blacks needed permits to be in Alexandra. I have just consulted with my Legal Counsel, @AdvDali_Mpofu if those laws are still applicable 25 years into our Democracy. I have been assured that it would be against our Constitution to prevent me
— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) April 14, 2019
Alex residents have been protesting for more than a week against mushrooming shacks and service delivery. President Cyril Ramaphosa went to the township on Thursday to campaign for the ANC.
During his visit, he urged the mayor to find time in his schedule to visit the township. In a thinly veiled attack on the mayor, Ramaphosa said that, unlike the mayor, he was not afraid to face disgruntled locals.
He later dismissed claims that the ruling party was behind the recent protest action and said a leader needed to immediately attend to local issues, referring to Mashaba.
“Even if locals were ANC members, it was important as a mayor to come to hear grievances. But because I respect him because he holds an important position in council, I politely request that he must find the time to come to Alex and engage with locals.”
Ramaphosa’s suggestion was rejected by the crowd, who made it clear they did not want Mashaba in the township.
“Let’s give him a chance.”
Mashaba in response to Ramaphosa’s visit described the president’s comments as the ANC making the same broken promises with no accountability.
He labelled Ramaphosa’s trip to Alex an indication of him following in the footsteps of his predecessors.
“Rather than accepting a request for him (Ramaphosa) to be part of an intergovernmental engagement with the community of Alexandra, he opted for an ANC rally.
“Ramaphosa has shown he is, in fact, no different to violent ANC thugs which have hijacked concerns of Alexandra residents.”
(Background reporting, Gopolang Chawane)